By Hannah Stevens @Hannahshewans
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In a small village in Southern Gujarat, India, parents Rameshbhai and Pragnaben Nandwana are struggling to handle their three overweight children - and can’t stop them from eating.
Daughter Yogita, five, weighs in at 33.5 kilos - a third heavier than other children her age - while her little brother Harsh already weighs 16 kilos at just eighteen months old.
But it is daughter Amisha whose weight is most concerning. At a staggering 51 kilos, the four-year-old weighs almost three times more than an average child her age - and it’s increasing at an alarming rate.
Their fourth child Bhavika, however, is a normal, healthy weight.
When the children were born their parents did not spot anything out of the ordinary, but once the siblings started eating solid foods they realised that something was not right.
The parents said: “The children seemed healthy and normal when they started on solid food but they started eating like adults - five or six roti flat breads.
“If we didn’t feed them, they cried.”
All three of the children continue to consume massive portions of rice, flat bread, and dhal and their appetite is showing in their weight.
Alisha’s condition is already causing her breathing difficulties and she is continuing to gain weight at a fast pace, putting her health at risk.
The father said: “We were unable to cope, the kids were suffering too.
“At this age kids generally run and play but ours were having trouble. Once sitting, they couldn’t get back up.”
The couple sought treatment to help their children at Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad.
Rameshbhai said: “I have high hopes that treatment will make my children healthy."
Assistant Professor of Paediatrics at Civil Hospital, Doctor Charul Purani said: “This is a rare case that I’ve seen for the first time.
"They have a lot of respiratory problems. They are not able to breathe properly when they sleep.”
A series of tests were carried out on all three siblings and blood samples were sent to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge where they were tested as part of an international study into the genetic causes of child obesity.
Professor of Metabolism, Sadaf Farooqi said: “We looked at the leptin receptor, which is a gene in the brain that works to regulate appetite, and that’s where we found a mutation.
“All three children have the same problem, which is a defect that stops that gene from working and as a result their brain does not receive the signal telling them they’re full."
As of the moment, there is no treatment for this condition, but doctors are hopeful.
Prof Farooqi said: “There are potential exciting opportunities for the future.
"A number of possible drugs are currently undergoing trials and those could be useful for these children."
The children's story appears in this week’s Body Bizarre, Thursday November 24, 10pm, on TLC.