To what extent is junk food junk

Child, eat your carrots, otherwise you will get bad eyesight! There are certainly quite a few adults who still remember Mutti's admonitions well and not only hated carrots as a child because of this.

The sensational case of a youngster from Great Britain, however, now teaches otherwise. The now 19-year-old from Bristol is blind and hard of hearing because he has only eaten junk food since elementary school. This is what paediatricians report in the current issue of the specialist journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Accordingly, the child mainly ate French fries, pressed potato chips, white bread and occasional servings of processed bacon and sausages. At the age of 14, the boy complained of fatigue, and when he was 15, his first hearing problems appeared. Medical examinations did not lead to a diagnosis, the child was given vitamins. At 17, the teenager had already lost part of his eyesight.

As the doctors write in the case report, they don't think the boy just has bad taste. He is said to suffer from an Avoidant-restrictive Food Intake Disorder, or ARFID for short. According to a Swiss study, the mental illness, which is probably caused by anxiety, affects three out of 100 children, mostly boys around the age of eleven, and manifests itself in a restriction to very few foods - often those with a special consistency. If left untreated, developmental disorders, underweight and deficiency symptoms can occur in the course of the disease.

At least the underweight and deficiency symptoms apply in the current case. The boy was always very thin and, according to the doctors, the loss of his eyesight is the consequence of a vitamin B deficiency that has persisted for years. The mother told the British newspaper Independent however, she always offered her son healthy food, he just didn't touch it. Since he didn't get fat and otherwise appeared healthy, she didn't worry for a long time. However, it is unclear whether the blind person really suffered from ARFID. The only thing that is certain is that the boy was apparently able to provide himself with heavily processed food as a primary school student.

He bought his fries every day from a fish and chip cart. And although the attending physician compared to that Independent said that the highly processed foods are not responsible for the young person's blindness "per se", and that such eating behavior can presumably only have consequences through the simple availability of inferior food such as crisps, white bread and french fries. Parents should therefore pay attention to the diet at home and not allow themselves to be reassured for too long by the supposed health of children who eat junk food: The professional association of paediatricians recommends speaking to a pediatric specialist if you have abnormal eating behavior.