Doctor Offers Advice to Severely Overweight Child

ByABC News via logo
May 24, 2005, 9:15 AM

May 24, 2005 — -- Over the years, "Good Morning America" has followed the story of Anamarie Regino, an Albuquerque, N.M., girl who was taken away from her parents for a short time when she was 4 years old because she was dangerously overweight.

Now Anamarie is 8 years old and still struggling with her weight, baffling doctors and her family.

Anamarie's weight has ballooned since infancy. By the time she was 1, she was 65 pounds. Just a year later, she weighed 80 pounds. At her kindergarten graduation, she weighed in at 120 pounds.

At one point, the state of New Mexico suspected she was neglected and took Anamarie from her home, but returned her about a month later when they found nothing wrong.

It was an experience Anamarie's mother, Adela Regino, will never forget. "Not being able to do a thing feeling so helpless," she said, recalling the incident.

Anamarie is quiet, gets good grades and treasures her friendships. She recently celebrated her 8th birthday, and at 5-foot-2 she weighs 210 pounds.

Doctors predict she'll soon suffer from diabetes and its complications.

"I'm concerned at how long she's going to live," her mother said.

ABC News' medical contributor and director of the Yale University Nutrition Center Dr. David Katz examined Anamarie to try and help her shed some of those dangerous pounds.

He suggested that her local Albuquerque doctor prescribe medications, whichhave helped a little.

"I think she is in severe trouble, but I am encouraged by the fact that she's not gaining as much," said Dr. Javier Aceves, Anamarie's doctor.

Katz believes that Anamarie has an extreme case of metabolic efficiency, meaning she is susceptible to gaining extreme amounts of weight when calories are abundantly available.

Experts are alarmed by skyrocketing rates of childhood obesity, due in part to the availability of high-calorie foods and a lack of exercise.