World’s fattest boy
A morbidly obese ten-year-old, who is reduced to wearing just a sarong as clothes do not fit him, has been put on a crash diet over fears he may die.
Arya Permana, named the world’s fattest child, weighs an eye-watering 192 kilograms and eats five meals a day consisting of rice, fish, beef, vegetable soup and Tempeh – a soy patty large enough to feed two adults.
Arya, from West Java Province in Indonesia, has dropped out of school as he can no longer walk and his mother Rokayah said he is ‘perpetually hungry’.
Facts and figures on childhood obesity
The number of overweight or obese infants and young children (aged 0 to 5 years) increased from 32 million globally in 1990 to 42 million in 2013. In the WHO African Region alone the number of overweight or obese children increased from 4 to 9 million over the same period.
The vast majority of overweight or obese children live in developing countries, where the rate of increase has been more than 30% higher than that of developed countries.
If current trends continue the number of overweight or obese infants and young children globally will increase to 70 million by 2025.
Without intervention, obese infants and young children will likely continue to be obese during childhood, adolescence and adulthood.
Obesity in childhood is associated with a wide range of serious health complications and an increased risk of premature onset of illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease.
Exclusive breastfeeding from birth to 6 months of age is an important way to help prevent infants from becoming overweight or obese.
Consequences of obesity in childhood
Obese children are more likely to develop a variety of health problems as adults. These include:
- cardiovascular disease
- insulin resistance (often an early sign of impending diabetes)
- musculoskeletal disorders (especially osteoarthritis – a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints)
- some cancers (endometrial, breast and colon)
Contributors to obesity in infants and children
Every aspect of the environment in which children are conceived, born and raised can contribute to their risk of becoming overweight or obese. During pregnancy, gestational diabetes (a form of diabetes occurring during pregnancy) may result in increased birth weight and risk of obesity later in life.
Choosing healthy foods for infants and young children is critical because food preferences are established in early life. Feeding infants energy-dense, high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt foods is a key contributor to childhood obesity.
Lack of information about sound approaches to nutrition and poor availability and affordability of healthy foods contribute to the problem. The aggressive marketing of energy-dense foods and beverages to children and families further exacerbate it. In some societies, longstanding cultural norms (such as the widespread belief that a fat baby is a healthy baby) may encourage families to over-feed their children.
The increasingly urbanized and digitalized world offers fewer opportunities for physical activity through healthy play. Being overweight or obese further reduces children’s opportunities to participate in group physical activities. They then become even less physically active, which makes them likely to become more overweight over time.