December 2, 2019
Julianna Raymond | MediaWise Teen Fact-Checker

Media wise rating: LEGIT

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” “Milk: it does the body good.” “Carrots improve your vision.” These are all phrases used by parents to sway a picky eater, but what happens when a fussy eater never outgrows their habits?

Scrolling through Reddit, I found a post claiming that a boy went blind due to a diet consisting of only Pringles, white bread and french fries. This seems a little far-fetched. Let’s check it out.

Look for evidence

The Reddit post included a link to a BBC article, which is a good place to start. 

BBC reported on the findings from a medical journal case study, which found that a 17-year-old boy from England suffered blindness after living on a diet of “chips and crisps.” After complaining he was tired, doctors diagnosed the then-14 year old with vitamin B12 deficiency and prescribed supplements. But, according to the article, he didn’t stick with his treatment or start eating any healthier.

“His diet was essentially a portion of chips from the local fish and chip shop every day,” Dr. Denize Atan told the BBC. “He also used to snack on crisps — Pringles — and sometimes slices of white bread and occasional slices of ham, and not really any fruit and vegetables.” 

Doctors diagnosed him with an eating disorder that made him avoid foods with certain textures — basically, he was medically a “picky eater.” Hence, his penchant for Pringles, bread and french fries. Atan went on to say that the boy lost minerals from his bones and had “blind spots in the middle of his vision.” Because of this, he met the criteria for being registered blind.

Do a keyword search

While the BBC is a credible source, it’s always a good tip to see how other news outlets are covering a story. A few different articles come up after plugging the words “boy goes blind due to poor diet” into Google. According to CNN, doctors at the University of Bristol examined the boy and “identified vitamin B12 deficiency, low copper and selenium levels, a high zinc level, reduced vitamin D level and bone level density.” 

The CNN article also explained that going blind due to poor diet, like the teenager in this claim, is extremely rare in developed countries. 

Our rating

Although this seems a little suspicious, it is LEGIT. A teen boy did go blind due to his Pringles-heavy diet. Eat your veggies, guys. 

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Alex Mahadevan is director of MediaWise at the Poynter Institute. He has taught digital media literacy to thousands of middle and high schoolers, and has…
Alex Mahadevan

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