Childhood obesity is an epidemic problem. The United States is probably the first place you think of when contemplating obesity but that is not the only place it happens.
Children all over the world overeat and, especially when those children are young, their parents are the first part of determining the source of the problem.
In this case, the children suffer from a debilitating genetic condition and their father is desperate to help.
Meet the Nandwana family who live in Gurjarat, India. They have four children, the oldest of whom is the only average-size child in the family. Both of their parents, Rameshbhai and his wife Pragna, are also of average size and weight.
However, their three younger children are morbidly obese. Yogita is 18 months old and weighs 33lbs, Anisha is 3 years old at at 75lbs and Harsh tips the scale at 106 lbs.
The kids suffer from a genetic disorder called Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS). The condition is characterized by an uncontrollable feeling of hunger, poor muscle development, behavioral problems, restricted growth, problems with sexual development and learning difficulties.
Caring for the children is both mentally and physically exhausting. As they cannot carry their weight, walking is impossible. The 30-something mother of two spends most of her day feeding the kids and helping them to the bathroom.
Rameshbhai does not earn enough to pay for food as the children continue to grow. Doctors have advised the young parents on the grim situation in which their children are living. Their organs are on the verge of failure as Harsh breaks a world record for his size.
Needless to say, Pragna has a full time job that primarily involves food prep. Pragna starts her day at 6am when the children wake up hungry. Their breakfast consists of 5 bananas, a liter of milk, 6 wheat chapatis (which are a type of bread) and a bowl of vegetable broth.
This would feed a small army in most house holds but here, the children are hungry again before 10am. They then have another 5 chapatis, 2 bananas, another bowls of broth and 4 obligatory bags of chips.
Out of desperation, Rameshbhai is planning to sell his kidney to pay for a specialist to see the children and offer them a solution. Though the gesture is admirable, the specialist may be a waste of time and a kidney.
Doctors agree that the best way to treat this condition is to prevent overeating at all costs. The condition is difficult to control but not impossible. No one likes to say no, especially to a child asking for food. However, PWS is fatal if not regulated which makes ‘tough love’ a non-optional, physical necessity of survival.