Girl, 4, faces hospitalisation due to Walkers crisp shortage

·3-min read
Michelle Gamble with her daughter Ava  (Michelle )
Michelle Gamble with her daughter Ava (Michelle )

The family of a four-year-old girl with a disorder that restricts her eating are worried she will be admitted to hospital amid a nationwide crisp shortage.

Ava Gamble, who lives in Narborough, Leicestershire, has a range of conditions including avoidant or restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID).

She has a very narrow diet that includes oven baked sea salt flavour Walkers crisps, toastie waffles, one type of fruit puree, almond milk and a prescription vitamin mix.

There have been shortages of Walkers crisps for a month following a glitch caused by an IT upgrade.

Ava’s mother Michelle is at her wits’ end and is spending hours a day searching for the crisps.

She told the BBC that her daughter would rather go on a drip than eat food she didn’t like.

“When your child relies on a food, and you can’t get it, it’s really hard,” Michelle said.

“[Me and my husband] go looking round the shops for the crisps every day for an hour or two.

“We have a big extended family and everyone is looking out for them too.

“There’s not a huge nutritional value in the crisps but the salt helps. It makes her drink more.

“[If she doesn’t have them] it makes her really sleep, she lays around and doesn’t have enough energy.”

“Our big fear is having to go to hospital and if we cannot find these crisps, that’s 100% a possibility,” she added.

“It makes me very, very anxious. What seems like such a simple thing is huge for her.”

Speaking to the Standard, Michelle explained that Ava has complex care needs from a rare genetic disorder called Cohen syndrome, which affects only 1,000 people in the world.

She said ARFID is often misjudged and that it is not “about junk food or poor parenting”.

“A lot more people are in a more desperate situation than myself battling for appointments, referrals, diagnosis,” she added.

Many parents with children who have disorders that restrict their eating are also struggling to get crisps.

Crisps are often favoured by those with ARFID because they are consistent.

Walkers has apologised for its supply issues.

A spokeswoman said: “We’re doing everything we can to increase production and get people’s favourites back on shelves.

“We’re very sorry for the inconvenience caused.”

What is ARFID?

ARFID is characterised by a pattern of eating that avoids certain foods or food groups entirely and/or is restricted in quantity (eating small amounts). Avoidant and restrictive eating cannot be due to lack of available food, or cultural norms (e.g. someone who is fasting or chooses not to eat certain foods for religious or cultural reasons alone).

ARFID is different to other restrictive eating disorders in that:

*ARFID isn’t affected by a person’s beliefs about the size and shape of their body.

*Someone with ARFID doesn’t restrict their food intake for the specific purpose of losing weight.

*ARFID doesn’t feature some of the other behaviours that can be associated with anorexia, bulimia, or OSFED, such as over-exercising.

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