Hanneke Goosen is a dietitian in mental disability care at De Twentse Zorgcentra. One of her patients with multiple intellectual disabilities, 10-year-old Serdal, has the eating disorder ARFID. He almost only eats a certain Olvarit meal, which is now being discontinued. Hart van Nederland and Algemeen Dagblad interviewed Hanneke and the patient’s mother. Hanneke: ‘If those pots disappear, there is a real problem. We must prevent Serdal from becoming malnourished.’
‘ARFID is not an affectation, it is a disease’, Hanneke emphasizes in Algemeen Dagblad. The thickness, taste, smell and color of the food are very important to people with ARFID, as the Algemeen Dagblad explains. People with ARFID do not eat many foods. They either can’t manage it or are too afraid to eat. As a result, they do not get enough nutrients. It is a serious disease that does not go away on its own. Serdal’s parents have tried everything to get their son to eat different foods. They went to different eating teams and different eating clinics, but nothing worked. They also had them make a liquid meal from the ingredients from the jar, but that didn’t work either.
Serdal’s eating problems started when he was six months old. He was tube fed as a baby and after that he was unable to get him to eat solid food. He’s not alone. Hanneke tells Algemeen Dagblad: ‘Of the children I encounter with nutritional problems, 20 percent eat the contents of these types of jars every day or almost every day.’ She is referring to pots for children from 6 months, because they do not yet contain any pieces. If Serdal’s parents give him anything other than the Olvarit meal with kidney beans, apple, rice and beef that is now being discontinued, their son will gag and panic. That’s why he has been eating these jars for 9.5 years now. Serdal eats 8 jars a day and also approximately 13 dairy desserts and liquid fruit from squeeze bags. He also drinks 2 bottles of toddler milk, among other things.
“If those pots disappear, there is a real problem,” Hanneke Goosen tells Hart van Nederland. According to Hanneke, it will be a complicated puzzle to teach Serdal to eat something else. If it really has to, the parents will look for a different kind of solution for Serdal: ‘But then the question is whether he will accept it and how long that will take. That can take months. In the meantime, we have to ensure that he gets enough so that he does not become malnourished.’
Response from Nutricia
Thanks to a call on social media, the parents now have 2 months’ worth of jars in stock. The parents hope for a solution, because they want to prevent their son from needing tube feeding. Manufacturer Nutricia was not aware that this product plays such an important role in this target group. In a response in the Algemeen Dagblad, a spokesperson said: ‘We are heartbroken to hear that the disappearance of this meal has such an impact on parents of and children with ARFID.’ Nutricia is now entering into discussions with the Kiem Foundation to better understand what this target group needs and how Nutricia can best help.
Watch the interview with Hart van Nederland here. You can read the interview in Algemeen Dagblad here.
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