Eight-month old son Santiago Mendoza sits at a clinic in Bogota, Colombia, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. The baby weighs more than 20 kilos and will be on a diet to loose weight, said therapist Salvador Palacios of a nonprofit organization that cares for obese children. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
He's not old enough to walk or talk yet, but 8-month-old Santiago Mendoza is old enough to diet. The tot weighs in at over 44 pounds - three times the size he should be, doctors say.
Santiago's mother, Eunice Fandino, turned to a charity group called the Chubby Hearts foundation for help. This week they traveled more than 300 miles from their hometown in Colombia to the capital, Bogota, so Santiago could get a complete medical evaluation.
"I'm worried about his obesity," she said, "I don't want him to continue like this."
An average 8-month-old should tip the scales at about 17 pounds. "Three normal-sized Santiagos would fit in him," obesity specialist Cesar Guevara observed.
At 44 pounds, Santiago weighs about the same as a typical 5 or 6-year-old.
Doctors have put him on a strict diet to help get him down to a healthier weight. He's being taken off baby formula in favor of vegetables and juices instead.
According to the Chubby Hearts foundation, there's no medical reason for the child's astounding weight gain - he's just been overfed with constant bottles of formula. "He is a compulsive eater," said Dr. Salvador Palacio, the foundation's director.
Santiago's weight makes it difficult for him to crawl and roll over, hindering his development. His mother says he's also susceptible to fungal infections in the folds of his skin.
"He looks very cute like this but his health is not good," she said.
His extreme weight could put him at risk for diabetes or a heart attack.
But doctors say with a healthier diet and more physical activity, he could reach a normal weight in six months to a year.