Diet of chips and crisps ruins eyesight

Lunch break: A typical feast for workers at Stonehenge, according to scientists.

Have we forgotten how to eat? We know that many of our Stone Age ancestors enjoyed a great diet. In rich countries today, we live in luxury — but malnourishment is getting worse.

What’s happening

Since leaving primary school, he had eaten only chips, crisps and white bread with an occasional slice of ham or a sausage.

Today, aged 17, he is registered blind though he was born with normal sight.

The boy, who cannot be named, was severely malnourished from his eating disorder.

Find out more

He is not the only one. In the UK, there has been a dramatic rise in hospital admissions for potentially life-threatening eating disorders in the last year. Numbers more than doubled from 7,260 in 2011 to 16,023 in the year to April 2018.

Across the world, obesity — which many claim is the worst eating disorder of all — now affects over one billion people, more than one in eight, and greater than the 821 million people who are going hungry.

What a stark contrast with our Stone Age ancestors. In 2017, scientists were able to work out that the people who built Stonehenge, 4,500 years ago, enjoyed feasts of roast sweetened pork, fresh vegetables and a range of rich dairy products including cheese and butter.

Some say…

“We have created a society of people who are unable to eat. A society where only a very small number of people can actually listen to their bodies,” says Hope Virgo, author and global advocate for eating disorder sufferers. Many go further and say we are forgetting other basics as well — such as how genuinely to play, sleep, walk, laugh and relax.

Others think…

What we are leaving behind is poverty and the terrible struggle for survival. Life in advanced civilisations offers the chance of great human fulfilment. Any of us can be vulnerable to a terrible eating disorder. The reason it makes headlines is because it is tragic — and also rare.

You Decide

  1. Do you have a healthy diet?

Activities

  1. Design a beautiful menu for a feast at Stonehenge.

Some People Say...

“Grub first, then ethics.”

Bertholt Brecht (1898-1956), German playwright

What do you think?

Word Watch

Registered blind
When you have a certificate from an eye specialist to say you have extremely poor sight or are blind.
Malnourished
When a person’s diet doesn’t contain the right amount of nutrients. It can mean either not getting enough nutrition or getting too much — in other words, eating too much and becoming overweight.
Advocate
A person who speaks up in support of a person or cause.
Vulnerable
To be at risk physically or emotionally.

Subjects

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