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This boy from Indonesia is only 10-year-old. But he weighs 190 kgs! Little Arya’s weight is so much that he cannot even stand or go to school. At this young age, he stays home all day and his parents have trouble finding clothes that can clothe him. Worse – this is not the result of a medical condition that is rare and can be treated with medication. It is the result of an unhealthy eating habit that we as parents need to stand up and take notice of.
Arya’s average day looks like this: he walks or crawls to the family bathtub where he loves to spend his time. All day long, he is confined to the pool. It is hard for his parents to find clothes to fit him, so he often remains naked except for a sarong wrapped around his waist. He cannot go to school as it is impossible for him to stand properly, let alone walk.
His frame – the frame of a mere 10 year old – cannot support his weight.
The Unhealthy Eating Habit That Led To Arya’s Condition
When we come across children (or adults) struggling with a severe weight problem, we tend to put it down to medical causes such as genes, hormones, or some underlying eating disorder. However, in Arya’s case, it was an unchecked eating habit that became his undoing: drinking cola and eating noodles.
On an average day, Arya used to eat up to five packets of instant noodles. He would wash this down with bottles of cola. Apart from this, he would also eat five meals that consisted of rice, fish, beef, vegetable soup and a large soy patty. But his addiction continued to be noodles and cola – foods that he craved for, and foods that offered little nutritive value except sugar and saturated fats.
The more he ate junk food, the worse his addiction became. In fact, his eating habits became so unhealthy that sometimes, even after consuming this kind of a meal, he still felt hungry!
How Arya’s Parents Are Dealing With His Weight Problem
The young boy’s parents have been struggling with their child’s obesity for a long time. Last year, he was put on a strict diet to reduce his weight. His mom also stuck to brown rice as opposed to white to further promote weight loss. However, it did not help. He was simply unable to lose weight.
His father said, “I have insufficient money to buy food to fulfil his large appetite. I borrow money so that he can eat. Of course, I cannot keep him starving.”
Arya’s obesity had become extremely dangerous – even, morbid. The doctors examining him felt that there was only one option left to save his life: weight loss surgery to reduce the size of his stomach. The surgery (a sleeve-type gastrectomy) would involve reducing the stomach to 15 percent of its original size, and reforming it into a sleeve shape. His parents, left with no other option and having tried everything else, agreed.
Fortunately, the surgery worked! Since the surgery, Arya has lost 16 kgs! The doctors feel that, if all goes well, his weight should come down to under 100 kgs in about a year. His appetite has also decreased a bit due to reduction in ghrelin (the hunger hormone) levels. His parents are happy and doing whatever they can to help their son. The doctors have recommended that he try and get some physical activity. The more he walks and plays, the more calories he will burn. This will improve his chances of living a normal life with other children – a life that his obesity has made almost impossible for him so far.
His mom says, “He (now) drinks milk and eats just one portion at a time unlike before when he could easily eat meals meant for three adults.
He still feels hungry but I think his stomach is not able to receive large amount of food. Each time he tries to overeat, he throws up.”
THIS Is Why Our Kids Are Getting Addicted To Junk Food
While Arya’s situation is indeed extreme, the risk that junk food addiction poses is very real. The number of cases of childhood obesity have increased alarmingly, and more and more young children are developing unhealthy eating habits. Not only does this affect their weight, but it also exposes them to heart problems, blood pressure problems, psychological issues, and, in severe cases, life-threatening consequences.
We often put down junk food addiction or unhealthy eating habits as the result of ‘generation gap’, ‘genes’, or ‘modern times’. However, the real reason this is happening is entirely different.
It is we, the PARENTS, who are responsible for perpetuating unhealthy eating habits in our kids from an early age, without even knowing it.
Preeti Agarwal, one of our Mommy Bloggers, explained very well exactly how kids get addicted to junk food:
“I see all my friends complaining about their kids being too much fond of chocolates, cakes, packed foods and junk fast foods. Has anyone ever given a thought how do they develop this habit? It is we who give them that!! Here’s how.
- Mom is busy with office work, no time to cook. On her way back she picks up a burger or frankie or whatever with an excuse that this is just one day today (which is never just once, usually)
- When kids cry, we give them a chocolate. When we want something get done from them, we bribe them with a chocolate or ice cream
- We keep quick cook packets like Maggi, croissant, cakes or soup mixes to feed our kids when there is nothing else to give him
- When guests or extended family come home, they get chocolates, cakes and ice creams for our small little cutie pie
We are so much used to these soft drinks and quick foods that we end up giving a bite or two to kids when we eat them. And kids develop the taste.”
While no one worries more about the child’s health and nutrition than a parent, what Preeti shares is entirely true. We are unknowingly making children addicted to unhealthy food – and this needs to stop immediately.
5 Important Steps To Protect Kids From Junk Food Addiction
1. STOP storing junk food like instant noodles, soft drinks and ready-made cakes where your child can see them. Instead, keep healthy snacks like fruits and nuts in the vicinity.
2. PROHIBIT your family members, friends or relatives from feeding processed or junk foods to your child, especially before meal-times. This is a question of your child’s future eating habits, so don’t worry about offending anyone.
3. STOP using junk food as a reward or tantrum-controller for your child. When you want to reward your child, find new ways such as a new book, or 10 extra minutes in the playground. The same applies to taming tantrums, no matter how tempting it may seem to just indulge the child with a sweet treat
4. INCLUDE lean protein and wholegrain carbohydrates in your child’s meals. This will help regulate their blood sugar levels. When the blood sugar fluctuates, kids tend to start craving for sugary and fatty foods
5. PLAN your child’s meals for the week in advance to feel more organised and less tempted to give in to ‘instant’ options. This can be difficult at first, but you can get used to it, especially by keeping in mind the essential nutrients your child needs on an average day. Consider enrolling a cook’s help, if possible, or asking a family member to pitch in
Children need to eat – and eat well – to grow and develop new skills. But eating more than required, or eating unhealthy food, only sets them up for the dangerous risk of childhood obesity. Let’s take a lesson from what happened to Arya, and be on our guard.
Our prayers to Arya and his family for a quick recovery. May life soon become normal for the young boy, and let him experience the magic that is childhood 🙂