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A medical journal has reported a teenager has gone blind after several years of a diet completely lacking in fruit and vegetables. Image Credit: Getty Images

London: A teenager in the UK has gone blind and deaf after living off a diet of chips, crisps and sausages for up to a decade in a case believed to be the first of its kind in the country.

The 17-year-old, who has not been named, ate only potato chips, sausages, processed ham and white bread, making him malnourished, Bristol Live reported.

According to the teenager's mother, her son began going off his meals when he was about seven years old and used to eat only junk food. He told doctors he did not like the "texture" of fruits and vegetables.

The case came to light after it was written about by Dr Denize Atan, from the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal.

The boy began to lose his hearing at the age of 14.

Junk food is a pejorative term, dating back at least to the 1950s, describing food that is high in calories from sugar or fat — with little dietary fiber, protein, vitamins or minerals.

It can also refer to high protein food like meat prepared with saturated fat. The term high in fat, sugar and/or salt (HFSS) foods is used synonymously.

In certain jurisdictions, marketing of HFSS to children is tightly regulated.

Certain protocols had been adopted by Europe for the marketing of foods and beverages to children.

In May 2010, the World Health Assembly unanimously adopted the WHO Set of Recommendations on the
Marketing of Foods and Non-alcoholic Beverages to Children.

A WHO evaluation in Europe states that children are exposed to an increased variety of media such as non-broadcast media.

There has been a shift in advertising of HFSS foods to new unregulated media channels such as websites.

His eyesight also quickly deteriorated and he has now been left with no job and no social life as a result, said his mother.

The woman said that when her son was in primary school, he used to come back home with his packed lunch untouched.

The term high in fat, sugar and/or salt (HFSS) foods is used synonymously with "junk food".

"I would make him nice sandwiches and put an apple or other fruit in and he wouldn't eat any of it. His teachers became concerned too.

french fries chips generic
For illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Pixabay

"His brother and sister have never stopped eating. They love everything. But he was just as fit and healthy as them. He has always been skinny so we had no weight concerns. You hear about junk food and obesity all the time - but he was as thin as a rake," said the woman.

Eating disorder

The teen is apparently suffering from an eating disorder known as ARFID (avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder).

Those suffering from the condition often avoid food with a certain texture, smell, taste or appearance, or only eat it at a certain temperature, according to eating disorder charity Beat.

The teenager's lack of nutrition severely damaged his optic nerve, causing a condition known as nutritional optic neuropathy (NON).

"We couldn't believe it when we were told what had happened. His sight went downhill very fast — to the point where he is now legally blind. We are told the damage is irreversible; it's been a nightmare," said the boy's mother.

Dr Denize Atan, who has been caring for the teenager, said the patient is still eating mostly the same food — although his nutrition has improved through vitamin supplements.

The family agreed for the case to be reported in the journal to raise awareness of ARFID and the importance of nutrition for good eye and ear health.