“Violet, you’re turning violet!” That’s the classic line from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, spoken by a dad to his naughty daughter who eats blueberry candy and ends up looking exactly like one. It’s funny in the movie, but it’s hardly something anyone would expect to happen in real life. But as it turns out it can and it has. There’s this 4-year-old kid in the UK, Leo Barnett, who turns a bright shade of orange when he eats carrots.
Leo actually suffers from a condition called hyper-beta carotenemia. This means that his body lacks the necessary enzymes to digest carotene, the substance that provides the orange color to carrots and other foods. So carotene just builds up in his body, turning him orange over time. Leo’s mother Angie says the boy is now on a diet devoid of any food containing the substance. The only vegetable that he’s allowed to eat is cauliflower. According to Angie, the problem was first noticed when he was 6 months old and suffered from pneumonia. His kidneys and liver were failing so they had mistaken the color to be a symptom from the disease. But a month after recovery, he was still orange and that’s when they discovered his allergy to carotene.