3-YEAR-OLD WEIGHED 75KG! Read about his des­per­ate mum’s ex­treme plan to save his health.

He was just a preschooler, but Adam weighed as much as a grown man. His mum tells EVELINE GAN how she turned his diet around af­ter many tears and tribu­la­tions.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - Contents -

While most par­ents use a stroller or carry their lit­tle ones when they are out and about, Nur used to make her tod­dler Adam (not his real name) walk.

Car­ry­ing him was out of the ques­tion, even when he was ex­hausted and his short legs could no longer catch up with his par­ents.

“Even if he cried, we would not carry him,” the 40-yearold sales ad­min­is­tra­tor shares.

Be­fore you call Nur hard­hearted, con­sider this. At the age of three, Adam tipped the scales at a whop­ping 75kg, which is equiv­a­lent to the weight of a grown man or a stan­dard-sized re­frig­er­a­tor.

Car­ry­ing him would re­quire the strength of a weightlifter. And no tod­dler car­rier or reg­u­lar-sized stroller was able to sup­port his mas­sive weight.

“It was dif­fi­cult for us to bring him out be­cause of his weight. We could not take longer trips or go on over­seas fam­ily va­ca­tions as he was too heavy to be car­ried,” Nur says.

By shar­ing Adam’s story, Nur hopes to raise aware­ness on child­hood obe­sity that has plagued her first­born since the age of two.

Now 10, Adam now stands at a height of 140cm and weighs 65kg. He man­ages his weight with the help of a mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary pae­di­atric weight man­age­ment team in the Na­tional Uni­ver­sity Hos­pi­tal (NUH), which is sup­ported by a pe­di­a­tri­cian, di­eti­tian, oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist and phys­io­ther­a­pist.

The NUH team runs a monthly clinic that acts as a one-stop weight man­age­ment clinic to help chil­dren and their fam­i­lies fight obe­sity.

As a baby, Adam was not fat, Nur shares. His ex­treme weight gain started af­ter he turned two years old.

En­cour­aged to eat non­stop by a dot­ing close rel­a­tive, who was his main care­giver while both his par­ents worked full-time, Adam’s eat­ing habits soon spi­raled out of con­trol.

TEN BOT­TLES OF MILK

“The care­giver kept feed­ing him milk through­out the day. It was dif­fi­cult for us to put a stop to the sit­u­a­tion as we weren’t at home. We tried telling her that it wasn’t easy car­ing for an obese child but she con­tin­ued to feed him ex­ces­sively,” shares Nur, who wants to re­main anony­mous due to the sen­si­tive na­ture of Adam’s con­di­tion and to pre­vent fur­ther strain­ing fam­ily re­la­tion­ships.

His six- and eight-yearold sib­lings, who were not cared for by the same care­giver dur­ing their tod­dler years, are of nor­mal weight.

Adam’s daily sta­ples con­sisted of bars of choco­late, fast food and other pro­cessed junk food. To keep him sa­ti­ated be­tween meals, he drank 10 bot­tles of milk ev­ery day.

“The care­giver did not fol­low the la­bel in­struc­tions and would of­ten add ex­tra scoops of pow­der to thicken it. He never touched veg­eta­bles or real fruit un­til he was around six or seven years old,” Nur shares.

Not un­less you count pre­served fruit bits in his favourite fruit and nut choco­late bar, or fruit­flavoured candy, she adds wryly.

By the age of six, Adam’s obe­sity had taken a toll on his ev­ery­day life, in­clud­ing sleep. “His snor­ing was so loud that any­one sleep­ing nearby would wake up. He also kept wak­ing up at night,” she says.

He was later di­ag­nosed with ob­struc­tive sleep ap­noea (OSA), a sleep dis­or­der that causes him to stop breath­ing fre­quently in his sleep. Dur­ing a sleep test, he stopped breath­ing 21 times in his sleep.

THE TURN­ING POINT

How­ever, the in­ci­dent that strength­ened Nur’s re­solve to get her son’s weight and health back on track was when she no­ticed that he was os­tracised in class.

He was told to sit in cor­ner as the preschool teacher had deemed him “too slow” to in­ter­act with the rest of the chil­dren, she shares.

“I felt re­ally guilty when I saw my son be­ing left in a cor­ner. From that day on, I kept telling my hus­band that we must do some­thing for our son,” Nur says.

“I don’t want him to feel ne­glected be­cause he can’t move around like other chil­dren be­cause of his weight. I was an obese child my­self and I know how hard it is.”

When rea­son­ing with Adam’s care­giver to change his diet did not help,

Nur knew that des­per­ate times called for des­per­ate mea­sures. She made the dras­tic de­ci­sion to move out.

By then, her re­la­tion­ship with Adam’s care­giver was so strained they could not talk to each other.

“Even if my helper or I wanted to cook healthy dishes for Adam, there were con­straints when we were liv­ing with my rel­a­tives. Even­tu­ally, we had to make a firm de­ci­sion, and that meant mov­ing out of our home,” she says.

They sought pro­fes­sional help to man­age his weight when Adam en­tered Pri­mary 1. Af­ter a rou­tine health checkup in school, he was re­ferred to the Health Pro­mo­tion Board and sub­se­quently, to NUH.

EAT­ING GREENS FOR THE FIRST TIME

At the age of seven, Adam un­der­went a ma­jor diet over­haul that in­volved re­plac­ing re­fined car­bo­hy­drates, fried foods and pro­cessed snacks with whole­grains and health­ier meals pre­pared us­ing clean cook­ing tech­niques. Sweet drinks were also cut out of his diet.

To get him to eat his greens, Nur shares that

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