What do you think when you see a morbidly obese child? That they’re just lazy couch potatoes? That their parents have neglected their health? We tend to see childhood obesity as a shortcoming of the parents. They are the ones, after all, that control what kind of food is bought into the house. They rule the roost!
Yet while there is undeniably a link between overeating and obesity, other factors can play a part, factors that a lot of people tend to ignore. I don’t just mean things like comfort eating, which is something that affects a lot of people at some point in their lives. Eating something we enjoy, releases endorphins so it makes sense that in times of sadness, we would want to relieve some of our distress. Comfort eating is something that is understandable and relatable to people. However, a rare condition which drove two young boys to eat dangerous amounts of food, is something that a lot of people cannot get their heads around…
A Story Of Two Boys Who Couldn’t Stop Eating
When a specialist looked into the case of two 12-year-old twin boys called Stevie and Eddie, it was clear that their food addiction couldn’t be explained away by a simple “people are addicted to the release of endorphins” argument. And despite what people may think of parents of obese children, the boys’ mother, Dianna, did everything she could to put an end their problematic eating habits. The fact remained, however, that they had a very real and problematic addiction to food…
Stevie and Eddie are identical twins who live in New Haven, Connecticut, with their mom Dianna Schatzlein-Ahern. The boys aren’t the only kids in the family – they have an older brother and sister called Ryan and Jamie.
1. What Was Family Life Like For The Schatzlein-Aherns?
Up until two years ago, the family were all one unit, with the father right by their side. However, when the twins were ten, their parents separated. And what was a substantial factor in their separation? Their 12-year-old sons’ morbid obesity, which seemed to have no end in sight…
NEXT: Find just how much these morbidly obese boys weighed!
The boy’s weight was definitely a huge problem – they weighed in at a whopping 182 pounds by the time they were only 12-years-old!
2. How Severe Was The Twins’ Weight Problem?
Explaining the extent of the twins’ problem, Dianna told Barcroft TV, “Their appetite is overwhelming. They are just never full” She tried everything to get them to stop eating. She even imposed a 1,200 calorie limit on their diet, to no avail. The boys remained obese and would always find a way to get their hands on the food they really shouldn’t have been eating. Unfortunately, it gets a lot worse. Soon enough the boys. who were desperate for food, started eating from insanitary places and also started eating inedible, and often lethal, substances…
NEXT: What were the boys eating that posed a seriously lethal risk to their health?
The boys would try to get their hands on anything they could find. Absolutely anything to at least partially satisfy their insatiable appetite for food.
3. How Desperate Were The Boys?
“They’ll eat out of the garbage,” Dianna told the Daily Mail. “We always have to take the garbage and put it outside.” Of course, their mom was concerned for their health went to some lengths to conceal food from them. They were used to taking food from their kitchen cupboards but now the boys turned their attention elsewhere. They started eating food from the trash, food that their mom had thrown away. Now, this was seriously concerning! They had stooped so low that they were literally eating trash! But that’s not everything! They had tried to consume something that was even more shocking…
NEXT: Which dangerous substance had the boys tried to eat when they ran out of options?
The boys’ desperation to eat was out of this world! It was as if they were malnourished children eating their very first meal…
4. What Else Did The Boys Try To Eat?
Their tendency to eat food that was thrown into the trash was a pretty clear sign that something wasn’t right. They had also tried to eat dog food but that was nothing compared to their penchant for consuming various cleaning products! It was lucky that their mother, Dianna, had become aware of this dangerous habit, so that she could put a stop to it before that itself developed into an addiction. It was bad enough that they were addicted to consuming large amounts of edible substances, let alone those that could kill them!
NEXT: What did Dianna lock to stop her boys binging?
Dianna was becoming increasingly anxious about the situation. Their eating habits just weren’t normal!
5. What Action Did Their Mother Take?
Dianna locked up her food pantry and even the fridge, in a desperate bid to prevent her kids from becoming bigger and bigger. And because of their tendency to consume things like pet food and cleaning products, she made sure that these were locked up as well. Ultimately, her boys were still just kids. They didn’t know what was in their best interests just yet and wouldn’t be able to make a conscious decision to watch their weight, but Dianna, cut off access to the very things that were harming their health, then that could only have been a good thing, she thought…
NEXT: Were the boys really unaware as to what they were doing?
Generally children loath having restraints placed on things that bring them joy. Whether that be food, playing in the park, playing video games…
6. The Boys Couldn’t Understand The Fuss
However, usually those kinds of restraints are no way near as essential their survival as in the case of Eddie and Stevie. Their inability to see what they were doing to their health was made a lot worse when they started sleep-eating and sleep-food searching. They were unaware that it was even happening and were annoyed at the fuss their mom was making. They didn’t see what the harm was in simply eating… but of course there was a lot of harm in it. But how had it gotten so bad?
NEXT: What happened when the twin brothers were born?
Often changes in eating patterns or harmful eating patterns in themselves, are caused when the overeaters in question go through something traumatic…
7. What Was The Cause Of This Addiction To Food?
It didn’t seem like trauma had played a part in this particular case. The twins adored their mother, even if they didn’t like the fact that she was concealing food from them. What was certain, however, was that when they were born, they weren’t the healthiest of babies. Doctors kept them in hospital for eight weeks because there seemed to have been some complications. But what implications could this have had on their health more than a decade later?
NEXT: What did the twins suffer from when they were newborn babies?
Being born a twin is not the easiest thing in the world! There is a much greater risk of complications when twins are born compared to when babies are born alone.
8. What Happened When The Twins Were Born?
The doctors told parents of the little baby boys that they were suffering from low muscle tone which is why they were kept in hospital, eight weeks after they were born. They were treated with special therapies until they were three months old, but it was never something that was seen as very serious. But perhaps it was more serious than they had thought, considering where the boys were at just over a decade later…
NEXT: Did the doctors miss something crucial?
There are often stories about doctors who misdiagnose things or give false information, but was it the same in this case?
9. Were The Doctors Wrong?
Doctors were sure that there was nothing wrong with the boys, they had done their therapies, and had made progress and nothing more needed to be done. Tests conducted on the boys had apparently shown there were no other issues that their parents should be concerned about. For a while, the family believed that to be true. Until the boys started school, that is. That’s when their overeating started to become serious!
10. What About The Other Two Siblings?
12. How Had They Affected Their Health Already?
Their health was worse than ever before and they were now sufferers of fatty liver disease which is where fat builds up in the liver (in a healthy liver there would be no fat or very little fat). The fact that they were only 12 and suffering from this quite serious illness, was shocking to say the least.
“It’s difficult for the boys because I’m very strict with their food intake, and I only allow them 1200 calories a day,” Dianna told the Daily Mail. “That can lead to aggression because they don’t understand why I have to do it.”
13. Difficulties In The Kids’ Behavior
As the twins got older, they were becoming more and more defiant towards their mom. They were also becoming more aggressive, which was worrying considering how physically imposing they were. They were extremely annoyed that their mom was trying to reduce their food intake. “Stevie can be very violent, he will just pop and start knocking things over,” Dianna explained. “He goes after Eddie all the time. I just say, ‘Eddie, go in mommy’s room and wait.’ But it can take hours for him to come out of it.”
It was bad enough that the boys were damaging their health, but now their behavior was suffering. Dianna knew now that she couldn’t ignore the problem any longer!
14. Whose Help Did Dianna Seek?
Dianna sought the help of doctors and although she tried, she couldn’t get a diagnosis. However, she eventually found a specialist in Long Island, New York…
Dianna was so relieved that she had found this specialist! She hoped she would finally get a diagnosis for her two boys so that they could get the help they needed…
15. What Were The Boys Diagnosed With?
After meeting with Dianna and her two boys, the specialist could see that they were on the autism spectrum. However, that still didn’t explain their dangerous eating habits and never-ending desire to eat. It was only when the specialist explained further, that it all became clear! They were sufferers of a very, very rare disorder – one that only affects one person in every 15,000!