Mmm...fries! Photo from Wikipedia Commons, originally posted to Flickr by Ebru.
Junk food is a staple of modern childhood. Though foods like chips, soda, cookies, and ice cream are bad for your health when eaten in excess, creating obesity and heart problems among other things, a little doesn’t hurt. But one 17-year-old boy in the United Kingdom took his junk food cravings too far.
The boy’s case is chronicled in a recent issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. Born a picky eater, the boy, whose name isn’t disclosed, didn’t enjoy very many fruits and vegetables. He began to gravitate towards five foods: white bread, fries, Pringles, processed ham, and processed sausage. For almost seven years, he ate the same foods. Though his parents tried to get him to try different food groups, he refused, ending up manifesting an avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder which is characterized by not eating food because of the shape and texture of different types of food.
According to the Washington Post, he had been on this diet for three years when he went to a doctor to get a check-up because of fatigue. Everything seemed mostly normal, including his weight, other than low Vitamin B-12 and his mysterious fatigue. He was sent home. Over the course of the next few years, things began to worsen. By 15, he began to lose hearing, and by 17 he was declared legally blind. How did this snowball into this large of a problem?
The problem was simple: lack of nutrients. Because of his restricted diet, as well as malabsorption, he was unable to gather all the nutrients his body needed for proper creation of amino acids and nucleic acids, creating bodily dysfunction. Additional testing showed that he continued to have low Vitamin B-12 as well as reduced bone mineral density, high levels of zinc, and low levels of copper, selenium and vitamin D. The result of trace minerals being taken out of the diet creates many problems, and in this case, the problems were severe.
What can be learned from this tragic story? The authors of the study stress the significance of a healthy diet that consists of many different food groups. It is not good to restrict your diet to the point of only eating a few foods. A varied diet is important, and the trace minerals in fruits, veggies, and grains allow for the correct functioning of the body.