Suman Khatun is believed to be one of the world’s fattest kids – and eats enough food each week to feed her entire village. She is the same weight as two Kylie Minogues, a Great Dane or England rugby player Johnny Wilkinson. Suman Khatun, a five year-old obese Indian girl who suffers from a suspected hormonal imbalance, is so insatiably hungry, she is eating herself to death, doctors fear. In just one week, she devours over 10 kilograms of rice, 24 eggs, six liters of milk and five kilos of potatoes. Her hunger even leads her to sneak out and pester her neighbors for food in the village of Metiala in the Indian state of West Bengal.
She eats so much, that the family, who only earn $16 a week by farming, often go hungry because she has to eat. If she doesn’t get food she cries. Her mother explains, “‘I’ve tried almost everything to control Suman’s appetite, but she cries so much that I have no choice but to give in. I’ve tried to be strict and refuse her food but she then rolls on the floor and starts eating mud instead. I can’t let my child eat mud so I end up giving her more food.”
Mother Beli Bibi, 32, isn’t sure how much her daughter eats because immediately after lunch she drags herself across the road to demand more food from neighbors. She said: ‘She’s hungry all the time and all she does is cry. I don’t like seeing my daughter so sad so I feed her. What am I meant to do?’ Suman was born a healthy 8lbs 9ozs but her appetite grew from the moment she began drinking milk. Her father, Jalal, 38, earns £10GBP a week as a farmer, which he spends almost entirely on Suman’s greed, often leaving the rest of the family hungry.
Milk is expensive in India and I couldn’t afford to buy her as much as she demanded as a baby, he said. My only option was to give her food grains. I used to crush them up and hoped they would fill her. Maybe that is to blame because by the age of two she weighed just over six stone, he added.
In one week Suman gets through an astonishing 14kgs of rice, 8kgs of potatoes, 8kgs of fish and about 180 bananas, as well as snacking on her favorite Bengali sweets and cream cakes. The worryingly obese child gorges on enough food to feed an average family of four – and still complains of hunger to her despairing parents.
She does no exercise and is exhausted walking for any more than a minute, collapsing on a sweaty heap on the floor. Suman spends her entire day sitting in front of the television or watching her older sister Shabnam, 13, twice her age and half her size, play with neighbourhood friends.
Weighing the same as basketball legend Michael Jordan in his prime, the six-year-old is too unfit to play cricket or run around with the rest of the neighbourhood children.
Beli Bibi explains: ‘I’ve tried almost everything to control Suman’s appetite, but she cries so much that I have no choice but to give in. I’ve tried to be strict and refuse her food but she then rolls on the floor and starts eating mud instead. I can’t let my child eat mud so I end up giving her more food.
‘I feel so embarrassed when she goes over the road and demands more food, it’s like we starve her or something. Then my neighbours feel sorry for her so they feed her too.’ Suman goes to school but hates it. She said: ‘Most of the boys tease me and I just run away and hide. Plus I don’t get enough food at lunch times, and I’m so hungry during class I feel ill.’
The family doctor, Subodh Bandyopadhyay, 35, has been treating Suman since she was a baby. She weighs five times what a normal six year old does, he said. It’s time the parents took the situation seriously. If she continues to eat the way she does, she might die of a cardiac arrest in the very near future. It’s a worrying time.
But it seems Suman’s parents have no idea how to control their daughter. We’ve done nothing wrong. We’re helpless, said mum Beli Bibi. If she cries a lot, she gets ill and bleeds through her nose, which is even worse. So we try to keep her happy and provide her with whatever she wants. Food makes her happy. ‘Our hands are tied.