A 15-year-old girl from Mississippi who suffers from a rare genetic disorder that caused her to be overweight has been crowned pageant queen.
Anna Hankins suffers from has Prader-Willi Syndrome, or PWS. The incurable condition is known to cause low muscle tone, cognitive disabilities, behavioral problems, and short stature. Her condition also causes chronic feelings of insatiable hunger.
Most Common Genetic Cause Of Obesity
PWS is considered a rare disease but it is the most common known genetic cause of obesity, affecting one in 12,000 to 15,000 people. Those who have the condition need intervention and strict controls, which include padlocking access to food so they could maintain normal weight.
"Individuals with PWS lack normal hunger and satiety cues. They usually are not able to control their food intake and will overeat if not closely monitored. Food seeking behaviors are very common," reads the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research website. "Left untreated, this combination of problems leads to morbid obesity and its many complications."
Anna's mother, Jennifer Hankins, said that because of her chronic eating disorder, the teenager eats anything she can get.
"There isn't food she doesn't like," Jennifer said.
Diet Plan For Anna
Anna, who is now on ninth grade, was premature and underweight at birth. As a toddler, however, her parents noticed her insatiable appetite and was eventually diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome when she was 2 years old.
Her condition became worse as she gets older. Her appetite has become so out control prompting her parents to lock the fridge.
Doctors have placed the teenager on a restrictive 900-calorie-per-day diet. She is neither allowed to have fatty or sweet foods because these could have dangerous effect on her weight.
Despite of her diet plan, Anna was not able to lose weight because her body does not break down food properly. She still weighs 380 pounds and needs oxygen to breathe.
Despite her condition and the unwanted attention that she gets from other kids, Anna was confident enough to join pageants. She was just crowned queen in a pageant that celebrates girls with disabilities, the Miss Amazing contest in Chicago.
The first time that Anna participated in pageants was when she was in fourth grade and she has since joined three other events. Anna, who loves to sing and is interested in makeup and hair, won the state title each time.
Jennifer said that she cries whenever she sees her daughter on stage. Jennifer said that participating in Miss Amazing has helped with Anna's self-esteem. It also allowed Anna to see other girls with special needs, which helps her realize she is not the only one struggling with a condition.