My name is Abigail and I am 10 (nearly 11) years old. I was diagnosed with the MC4R Gene deficiency when I was 4 years old. This means that I am overweight for my age, but don’t judge me and think I eat lots of unhealthy food, because I don’t.
A Health Visitor that came to see my mum and me when I was a baby and monitored me and mentioned to my mum that I was gaining weight really fast and my mum wondered if it was because she was feeding me really big portions of food for my age. She wasn’t!
I was referred to our local hospital and spoke with a brilliant Consultant who took blood from me to send to Dr Farooqi at Cambridge.
Results were in…….You see, it turns out I am obese and there is a reason for it. My mum wasn’t over feeding me at all. Yes I was always hungry but she didn’t feed me to keep me quiet. I have a deficiency which means I am overweight because the messages sent to the brain don’t get there to tell me I am full.
People would look at me and my brother and think he was underweight as they compared him with me and my size all the time and that was wrong. He is fit and healthy and doesn’t have the MC4R Gene deficiency. I was obese because of my deficiency, not because I ate my brother’s food as well as mine.
I am approximately 10 stone at the moment and see a dietician every 3 months to keep an eye on my weight gain. We talk about what foods I eat at school and at home, we talk about what sports I like and what activities I love doing at school and with my friends. I love sports, like swimming and baseball and I play musical instruments like the keyboard and the cornet and nothing will stop me from doing the things I love. It is hard as I get tired easily, but I know the exercise is doing me good.
I would get upset all the time, I was hungry and I wanted food. My mum would get upset and I know it was hard for her to say NO to me all the time and it was really stressful for her. Now at 10, it still upsets me and mum still gets a little stressed sometimes but it is the comments people make that upsets me and mum the most, not because I am hungry. I understand that I will always have to watch what I eat, find it difficult to buy clothes, learn to make the right food choices but at least I am taking responsibility.
I am not a greedy person, I was very angry – why me? I wanted to know if there is a cure. But I am not angry anymore as this is my life and I just get on with it.
I am starting senior school next year and I am really quite scared in case people call me names. I want to be like my friends – thin but I know I won’t be. I hope to tell the school all about my deficiency, then they will know what is wrong with me. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. I just want them to know the truth about why I am overweight.
Meeting Dr Farooqi and the team in Cambridge was like a rollercoaster of feelings for me. I love to meet new people and I can talk for England but the blood tests were the most scary part - but they had to be done! Everyone was so nice to me.
I keep in touch with Julia, as I fundraise for GOOS ironically by baking and selling my cakes! What I find is, when I am around food baking, I tend not to eat because I am too busy. Yes I may have the odd treat of a cupcake at the end of baking but my family and friends are my taste testers. I just enjoy creating something others can enjoy.
Please don’t think that I am overweight because I eat unhealthily or sit in front of the TV all day because I don’t – I have a deficiency, and I am in Dr Farooqi’s gang and she looks after me. Don’t judge a book by its cover!