Two sisters and their baby brother are so obese they are unable to walk and their poverty-stricken father is so desperate he plans to sell his kidney.
Yogita Rameshbhai Nandwana, five, Anisha, three, and 18-month-old little brother Harsh are among the heaviest toddlers in the world each weighing a staggering 34kg (5.3st), 48kg (7.5st) and 15kg (2.5st) respectively.
The food they eat in a week is enough to feed two families in a month, in their village in Gujarat, western India.
But their father Rameshbhai Nandwana, 34, is so desperate for medical help he is planning to sell his kidney to earn the money needed to see top specialists.
‘A few social worker has come forward to help but it’s not just about the food,’ he said. ‘If my kids continue to grow at this rapid rate they will have major health issues. We’re terrified they will die. I am ready to sell my kidneys if the money can help in their treatment.’
Little Harsh gulps down eight glasses of milk a day, his sisters Yogita and Anisha devour eight chapatis (Indian bread), 2kg of rice and three bowls of broth, six packets of crisps, five packets of biscuits, one dozen bananas and a litre of milk every day.
We’re terrified they will die. I am ready to sell my kidneys if the money can help in their treatment
Their uncontrollable hunger means their mother Pragna Ben, 30, is in the kitchen the whole day.
She says: “My day starts with making 30 chapatis and one kg vegetable curry in the morning. After that I am again in the kitchen preparing more food. It never stops – their hunger never stops. They demand food all the time and cry and scream if they’re not fed. I am always in the kitchen cooking for them.“
Rameshbhai and Pragna have one older daughter Bhavika, aged six who weighs an average 16 kg, and cannot explain or understand why their other three children are so obese.
Rameshbhai said: ‘When Yogita was born she was extremely weak and weighed just 1.5 kg. We were worried for her health so we fed her a lot during the first year of her life to build her strength but by her first birthday she had bloated to 12 kg.
‘Our third daughter Anisha also gained weight in similar fashion and by her first birthday she was 15 kg. But we only realised they were suffering from a disorder when our son Harsh was born as he too gained weight quickly during his first year.
‘We started looking for medical help and consulted many doctors but they would just refer us to bigger hospitals that I couldn’t afford.’
We started looking for medical help and consulted many doctors but they would just refer us to bigger hospitals that I couldn’t afford
Rameshbhai earns just Rs 3000 (£35) a month but he still finds the money to buy the food to fill his children’s large appetite.
He said: “I am a daily wage labour and I usually get paid Rs 100 a day but there are times when there is no work at all. I work in fields, dig wells, and do whatever menial job I can find to earn money. And I’m constantly worried about finding the money to feed my continually hungry children.”
Despite his paltry income, Rameshbhai spends approximately Rs 10,000 (£110) a month on food for his children.
“I cannot leave them starving. If I don’t have the money, I borrow it from my brothers and friends but I make sure I feed my children when they need,’ he added.
The desperate father has spent Rs 50,000 (£540) on seeing doctors and treatment over the last three years but there is still no improvement.
He said: “No one in our family has a giant frame. Only my children are overweight. As parents, it pains us immensely to see them unable to move. They cannot walk; they cannot do anything on their own. Selling my kidney is a desperate measure but I’m now desperate to get the right help for my children.”
Pragna cannot pick up her children so she has to watch them roll around when her husband is at work or use a trolley to pull them around.
She said: “They need me to help them bath or when they need the toilet. I’m only 40 kg so it’s impossible for me to pick them up. It’s a struggle when my husband is at work.
“They are usually restricted to the same place for the whole day and because of that, they cannot go to school. All they do all day is eat and play and giggle with each other. I want my daughters to get an education and play like other kids. I want them to have a life. This is no life.”
Local doctors believe the children are suffering from Prader Willi Syndrome but do not know how to treat it.
Dr Akshay Mandavia, Consulting Pediatrician at Mandavia Children Hospital, in Gujarat, said: “There is an abnormal accumulation of fat in these children. They’re not able to breathe properly, and they wheeze.
“Their condition could be due to endocrinal disease or Prader Willi Syndrome but we can only ascertain the right treatment after a proper diagnosis at one of our top hospitals.”