By Nathalie Bonney @nathaliebonney
Scroll down for the full story
Arya Permana from Karawang in West Java, Indonesia, weighed the same as six boys his own age and struggled to walk more than five minutes at a time.
After years of over-feeding him, parents Ade and Rokayah Soemantri were eventually convinced that their young son had to have drastic surgery or he’d die.
Travelling to the Omni hospital in Jakarta, Arya was the youngest person to ever undergo a five-hour gastric sleeve operation.
The extensive surgery performed by Dr Handi-Wing removes a large portion of the stomach making it smaller and banana-shaped, so Arya’s appetite would lessen and he’d also feel fuller for longer.
Doctors had called Arya’s condition “one of the toughest cases of obesity in the world" and if the situation was not controlled it could have proved fatal.
But just a month after surgery Arya has already lost nearly five stone and he is expected to lose close to 100kg (220lbs) in one year.
Prior to his surgery, Arya was living on a daily diet of fried chicken, rice, noodles and chocolate ice cream - even after medical intervention and a strict low-fat diet and exercise programme.
Failing to realise the seriousness of their son’s condition, Arya’s parents continued to feed their son greasy curries and high-cholesterol snacks, such as salted anchovies and hard-boiled eggs.
Dad Ade said: “He ate like he had no sense of being full. Every time he had two packets of noodles and two eggs. More than half a kilo of chicken and then there was rice. This could be four to six times a day.
“The saddest thing was watching Arya try to get up. He would get out of breath just walking five metres. We were very worried.”
It was only when their son’s health reached a near critical condition that Ade and mum Rokayah Soemantri accepted their son needed urgent help.
Mum Rokayah said: “I am the one the most to blame. I regret it because it’s my fault. I didn’t control how much I fed him. I keep feeding Arya because I love my child.”
But Rokayah’s love was killing her son.
When he was born Arya weighed a healthy 8.3 lbs and didn’t start gaining weight until he was five.
Rokayah said: “Between the ages of one and four he was a normal weight. From the age of five he was starting to put on weight."
Arya said: “I felt like I wanted to eat all the time. When mum cooked I always waited for it. I liked to say ‘mum hurry you cook.’”
Gaining a staggering 20 stone in four years, Arya’s large size started to attract attention.
People would stop and take photos of him in the streets and before long local and international media were reporting on the 'heaviest child in the world.'
Rokayah said: “Arya has been invited to Jakarta and Japan. He is very famous, so I feel happy.”
Arya's father Ade worked as a security guard while Rokayah was unemployed – Arya’s extreme overeating was putting his health at greater risk every day.
After collapsing at a school flag ceremony, he caught the attention of the country’s top doctors. A team of specialists took samples to look for genetic hormonal abnormalities that could have contributed towards this.
A high level of the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) was found in Arya; however it was not enough to explain his morbidly obese state.
Doctors decided to closely monitor Arya’s food intake with food diaries but found discrepancies between what the 10-year-old said he ate and his parents’ more conservative claims.
Leading weight control specialist Dr Grace Judio then spent two days with the family to get to the bottom of his eating habits.
Drawing up a strict meal plan, in an emotional exchange with Rokayah, Dr Judio told Arya’s mum just how serious the situation was.
“What you’re doing is killing him. You’re going to be healthy but he will die.”
But just a week after trying to adhere to Dr Judio’s controlled diet, Arya’s parents admitted they were already struggling to ensure their son kept to it.
Rokayah said: “The diet programme is very specific and it is difficult to get the right food. Arya is just a boy, if he wants to buy snacks, he will buy noodles and soft drinks, ice cream and chocolate ice. He does not want to follow the diet.”
During an emergency Skype call, Dr Judio told the family of their last resort - surgery.
Struggling to come to terms with the severity of the operation, Rokayah initially refused before realising her son’s near-critical condition.
Dr Handy-Wing said: “If Arya is not losing weight then I’m afraid he’s at risk of developing cardio vascular disease or having a stroke, even though he’s young. He might have diabetes.
“After surgery we expect the patient can lose 1-3kg per week for around one year. We hope after one year the patient can drop 100kg."
Arya has a long way to go but is already planning what he will do once he loses more weight.
He said: “I’m going to play with my friends in the pool, play football and ride bicycles.”
**CONDITION OF USAGE** World's Heaviest Child: Extraordinary People, Thursday 1st June at 10pm on Channel 5.**