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.
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