A YORK youngster who has never been able to eat proper food is a step closer to his first meal.

Four-year-old Regan Barker, of Water Lane, Clifton, has such a severe reaction to the taste, sight and smell of everyday foods that he has been living on a diet of milk, with just the occasional packet of crisps, biscuit or bowl of jelly.

As a baby Regan was unable to keep milk down - a condition known as reflux - but when he moved on to solid food the situation worsened and now if he sees someone else eating, or he smells food, he vomits, sometimes up to five times a day.

As reported in the Evening Press last September, Regan's parents, Tonya Barker, 35, and Darren Walker, 39, were told that Regan would grow out of the problem and it was possibly psychological, but they were hoping for a miracle cure that would enable him to develop like his five brothers and sisters.

Since that article was published Regan has featured in magazines and on television programmes, and he has been filmed for a documentary programme which is due to be screened on Yorkshire Television in the next couple of months.

Tonya said various tests and investigative operations have since been carried out on Regan in Sheffield, which found that he still had reflux and possibly some allergies, and she was confident that he could now be treated.

She said: "I had a phone call from a woman after I had been on GMTV who said her son had the same symptoms and she told me to ask for more tests, which I did.

"Doctors found that he still has reflux, which makes his stomach quite sensitive, but we are now hoping that they will be able to treat him, then get him used to having food gradually.

"It's been nice to get the recognition that there is something wrong with my son and that he does need help. It's a long road but I think we'll get there."

Updated: 10:53 Wednesday, April 16, 2003