A DAD who suffered ‘two years of hell’ while fighting Crohn’s Disease has criticised reports which linked the condition to junk food.

Baxenden man Steve Chadwick, along with thousands of other sufferers, was angered by national news reports which suggested that bad eating habits had led to a three-fold increase in the number of patients being admitted to hospital with the condition.

The 35-year-old fears this will lead to further misunderstanding about Crohn’s, because the precise causes are still unknown. The London-based gastroenterologist whose interview led to the reports has since apologised and said her quotes were ‘distorted’.

Steve, who lives in Southwood Drive and works as a salesman for Morecambe-based Althams Butchers, said: “It was really frustrating to read these stories putting it down to junk food. It was ridiculous because it just isn’t that simple. My parents hated junk food and wouldn’t let me near it.

“You’ve got professional footballers and rugby players like Darren Fletcher and Lewis Moody who have Crohn’s, and their diet will have been unbelievably healthy.”

Steve, who lives with wife Alex, 30, and daughter Olivia-Layla, five, said there was already a lack of awareness about the condition, especially around the fact that it causes severe fatigue, and he has backed a campaign by the Crohn’s and Colitis UK charity to raise its profile.

He started experiencing symptoms, such as tiredness, stomach cramps and diarrhoea when he was 15, but it was several years before doctors diagnosed the ‘invisible disease’, after initially thinking he had irritable bowel syndrome.

Five years ago the symptoms worsened, and Steve was repeatedly admitted to hospital with severe stomach pains. The regular hospital trips lasted nearly two years, in what Steve said was the ‘worst time of my life’, before medics finally agreed to remove 65 per cent of his bowel in a major operation.

He was forced to give up his job as landlord of the former Black Horse pub in Accrington, and though he is now in remission he still takes medication and suffers from the same symptoms, though they are less severe.

He is determined to continue working, however, and added: “You don’t want to bang on about it, but most people don’t understand what I go through every day. It gets to 2pm and I feel like I’ve run a marathon because I’m so tired. I could sit at home on benefits but I don’t want the disease to rule my life.”

A spokesman for Crohn’s and Colitis UK said: “Members and supporters have voiced their concern and understandable upset over the original report. The reference to junk food as a possible cause of Crohn's disease is controversial and potentially unhelpful.”

Dr Sally Mitton, the London-based expert who conducted the initial interview, said: “I did mention pre-diagnosis diet and multiple courses of antibiotics as possible factors preceding the development of overt disease in some cases. (But) I did not say that junk food or frequent courses of antibiotics cause Crohn’s disease.”

Crohn's causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system.