An average 3-year-old weighs 33 pounds, but Lu Hao, a toddler from China, weighs 100 pounds more than that. In fact, Hao weighs more than many adult women (including myself). Obviously many are blaming his parents, but in this case, it's hard to know.
The boy may have a hormonal disorder. Doctors also suggest that he may have abnormally low levels of leptin, a hormone that controls appetite, though he doesn't show all the symptoms. According to his parents, it's just hard to stop the toddler from eating. His parents say he throws massive tantrums if he doesn't get third or fourth helpings of dinner. But there is other psychology at work, too.
The boy was born very underweight at 5 pounds, 7 ounces. But he started gaining weight quickly and hasn't stopped.
Obviously the easiest explanation is that his parents overfeed him and give in to his demands. But having an underweight baby is very challenging and scary. My own 4-year-old daughter is now a healthy and robust 37 pounds (and 41 inches), but she was so small at birth, I had to really fight the doctors on whether or not to supplement with formula.
For a long time, we gave her cream along with her milk once she was 1 just to put some weight on her. It gets in your head as a parent. Also, it's very hard to tell a child they can't have food. It's one thing to say no to candy or to sweets or ice cream, but it's another to deny them food.
It's very easy to say what you would do if he was your baby when he isn't. If this child were obese because his parents pushed food on him, it would be one thing, but it doesn't sound like they're stuffing him with Cheetos and Twinkies. It sounds like he is just a hungry boy.
I'm the first to say that obesity is a serious problem. This boy can't go to school because they are afraid of how he might hurt the other children. He is at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and all kinds of obesity-related diseases at the AGE OF 3. Clearly things need to change, but calling the parents abusive or blaming them isn't the way to bring change. After all, what would you do if your child asked for food constantly? You would feed him, right?
When my children ask for food, I give it to them. I don't always give them WHAT they ask for, but I figure if they're hungry, I should feed them. That is my job as a mom. This family will have to do something, it's clear. But what they will do remains to be seen.
Do you blame the parents?
Image via Tobyotter/Flickr