It’s A Sad Day When We Turn The Story Of Morbidly Obese Babies Into Typical Fat Shaming

I have to admit, when I first saw some of the click-bait titles surrounding the morbidly obese eight-month-old baby, Santiago Mendoza, at 42 pounds, my first reaction was that it made me sick. At first glance, I thought this was a typical story of negligent or uneducated parents who were feeding their baby pure lard, causing him to fall into the obese category before his first birthday.


I have made clear that I am somewhat of a health nut, but I try not to preach to others. Still, with all that I know of the health world, and especially taking into account where I live in South Texas with sky-high obesity rates, it truly does bother me to see young children fed ridiculous amounts of candy, junk food, and soda before they even hit kindergarten. As we recently learned from the “cookie child abuse” story, it’s still unfair for me to judge as I am not with a parent 24 hours a day. But if a kid is eating junk and is morbidly obese, they are not likely enjoying candy and other crap in moderation.

So, that was where I was coming from. But taking a closer look at these two morbidly obese Colombian babies, who weigh an alarming 91 pounds in combination at 10 months old, I have a hard time faulting the parents on this one.

The mother of 10-month-old Isabella Martinez said:

“In the first few months, Isabela pestered me all the time — she didn’t sleep, she was just eating and eating,” she said. “We started to try to regulate her food intake, but she wasn’t losing any weight.”

As for Santiago, who weighed three times what a normal eight-month-old should weigh, doctors could not find a medical reason for his weight gain:

Doctors have put Santiago on a strict diet, saying he needs to lose nearly 40 pounds to reach a healthy weight of 17 pounds. The child will be taken off formula milk and fed primarily vegetables and juices.

I am certainly not a doctor, but it is hard to believe that a baby could overfeed on pure formula to triple his weight. Santiago’s mother appeared vigilant and not negligent as she contacted a charity for urgent help with his mobility issues caused obesity. Currently, both babies are on a healthy weight loss diet in the hopes of reaching a normal weight within six to eight months.

I was guilty of fat shaming these kids, or at least judging their parents, when I first heard the news story and saw the pictures. But I have a hard time believing that the babies reached such a dramatic weight by being overfed formula alone. It still seems probable that an underlying medical issue could be the cause.

I think it’s important to address parents who may not feed their young children nutritious foods and contribute to obesity and health issues that could easily be prevented. However, it doesn’t appear that the parents of Santiago and Isabella fall into this category. They sought help early and are working with doctors to help their morbidly obese babies reach a healthy weight.

(Image: Twitter)

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  • Bic

    Don’t such young children need the vitamins and minerals from milk still at this age? I’ve no kids so i’ve no clue, nut I had the impression that children needed a more varied diet than adults and that very restrictive diets were harmful. Though I suppose they my think it’s the lesser of the two evils in this case.

    Weight is a strange thing a friend of my family had always been obese, both his son and granddaughter are the same way, although his grandson isn’t. No doctor has been able to find a cause no matter how much testing they have done and no diet has ever worked for them. I don’t think doctors understand weight loss and gain as much as they like to think.

  • Kate

    Hey Bethany, use the right terms. Obesity is only measured by the BMI chart which begins scaling with toddlers over 2, not infants like the ones in your story. Outside of this context, “morbidly obese” just means “looks really fucking fat.” This is the second time this week Mommyish has run a story that conflates fat and obese. It’s its own lazy click bait and I’m getting really tired of it.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I used the terms found in the original news articles.

    • xoxo

      Ever since Koa stepped down the headlines (and articles themselves) have been getting more and more ‘click-bait’y.

    • Butt Trophy Recipient

      Someone’s being a little sensitivy weevy aren’t we? Here, have a chocolate. Make you feel better.

    • Angela

      Actually there are several ways to diagnose obesity. BMI is the traditional method for adults but body fat percentage, waist-to-hip ratios, and even some body imaging techniques can also be used. For infants under two, the standard measurement is percentile-based weight-to-length ratios (anything over 95th percentile is considered obese).

    • BFD

      Headlines with the words “obese” and “babies” = clicks. Who cares if they are medically accurate!

  • Melody

    Okay, so my 3rd was 35 lbs at her one year checkup. What’s crazier is that like you, I’m dealing with the severe food allergies, full body eczema, and asthma that plague my son, so I make everything my kids eat (with the exception of some organic yogurt and rice cereal) from scratch to avoid the corn and soy preservatives and other allergens. I can safely say that they eat really healthy stuff, it’s sort of an obsession of mine, as most allergy moms can understand. She was chubby when she was born, thigh rolls and all, and because I knew that she was eating healthy balanced meals, I was at a loss and just assumed that was her body type. She was super active, walking before her siblings had (probably in an effort to catch up to them) and she had no other health issues.The pediatricians first told me to limit her milk and dairy, then juice (which was already watered down) and other sources of sugar, and carbs and red meat. They were harsh, probably thinking that I was negligent and uneducated and parents like me must be contributing to the obesity epidemic. Meanwhile my older kids are beanpoles who seem to have lightning speed metabolisms.
    My mom told me that I was the same way as a baby and she cut out my desserts and I just grew into it and slimmed out by the time I was 3. I took what the dr said into account, but ultimately did not limit her diet to the extent that they recommended and she’s now 2, still 35lbs, but significantly taller and able fit into smaller clothes. Everybody is different I guess.

    • Bethany Ramos

      So sorry you have to deal with all that – I constantly feel stress about discussing diet with pediatricians and trying to make those changes with my toddler.

  • Kay_Sue

    I can’t even imagine being in that situation as a parent.

  • tangerine

    My son weighed 37 pounds at one year. He had rolls on top of rolls, and no he did not get fed a bunch of junk. Thank goodness his pediatrician told me not to worry about it. At his four year old check up he weighed 39 pounds and grew 18 eighteen inches. He’s perfectly fine, some babies just get fat before they get tall.

  • BFD

    I’m not sure what the point is of this article. The only thing I got out of it is that the author is confused as to why these babies are fat. And that she apparently has read many stories about parents who feed their babies “pure lard.” Wow. That’s some fun fat shaming right there!

  • C.J.

    One of my friends has an 11 year old daughter who is gaining weight at an alarming rate. She gained 14 lbs last month alone. My friend monitors her diet very well. She has been for blood work to check for a medical problem and are waiting for the results. The child went from being underweight to overweight in six month with a 40 lb weight gain. Yes there are many people that are overweight because they eat junk and don’t exercise. There are also many that have medical conditions that cause it. My friend just found out she has a problem with her thyroid last year and is thinking her daughter might have the same problem. My friend was 39 when her thyroid problem finally showed up in a blood test. Sometimes these medical conditions that cause weight gain are hard to find.

    • Bethany Ramos

      That is what this story sounds like to me.

    • C.J.

      I just hope it doesn’t take 39 years to figure out there is a medical problem like my friend. Those poor babies are going to have serious health problems and have a hard time doing things the other kids can do if they can’t find out why it is happening.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I totally agree! Very sad.

    • Jennifer

      yup. i went from being 150lbs at 5’8″ to 315lbs in just over a year. it turns out i have hypothyroidism which is glaringly obvious in retrospect but went totally undiagnosed for months and months. it has really opened my eyes to the totally legitimate discrimination against fat people, including by medical professionals. i also realized how complicated obesity is. there are so many factors that contribute to gaining weight. it’s a sad reflection on our current society that we ignore everything and just assume the person is lazy, greedy, weak-willed, etc.

    • C.J.

      That must have been quite scary to be gaining weight that quickly and not know why. Glad you found out why. Personally I think more emphasis should be put on trying to be healthy and less on pant size.

  • Elisa Probert

    A friend of mine has a grandson that was huge when he was a baby. He’s leveled off now that he’s running all over the place as toddlers do, but he gained so much weight in his first couple months that his doctor was concerned. And, this was an exclusively breast-fed baby. Even though his mom ate a healthy diet, for whatever reason, her milk was “basically, pure cream.” (which is what she says the doctor told her)

    I hope they can figure out what’s going on with these two. Those goofy baby grins slay me. Seriously, I’m dead right now, typing this as a zombie.

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