An Indonesian boy, who made headlines for smoking since he was two years old, has finally kicked the habit. However, Aldi Rizaln, now aged five, has switched to gorging on junk food.
Aldi, a native of Sumatra in Indonesia, was pushed in the spotlight in 2010, when he was seen puffing on a cigarette while riding his tricycle. His habit of smoking 40 cigarettes a day led the Indonesian government to launch an anti-smoking campaign for children, Daily Mail reported. The toddler was soon shifted to a rehabilitation centre and was enrolled in play therapy sessions for some time.
A recent investigation showed that the boy hasn't smoked for more than a year, but has developed an unusual craving for unhealthy foods, making him overweight compared to other children of his age.
Nutritionist Fransisca Dewi told Daily Mail that the boy consumes nearly three cans of condensed milk every day, in addition to "too many carbohydrates."
"Aldi is very overweight, his weight doesn't match his age. His ideal weight is 17kg to 19kg. He's 24kg already," he said.
According to doctors, smoking has played a major role in increasing the boy's appetite. "Nicotine can increase the endocrine hormone in the body. This condition can cause resistance to insulin," Paediatric specialist Dr William Nawawi, told Daily Mail. "The blood will not be able to break glucose from food. This will make Aldi become bigger and bigger."
Though Aldi's case appears to be a rare case, smoking at a young age is not completely new in Indonesia, where there are no strict rules to prevent youngsters from buying cigarettes.
According to Mirror, a six-year-old boy named Maulana Susanto started smoking when he was just two years old. "He's been smoking since he was two. He was on a pack a day. Now he goes to school just one or two cigarettes are enough," Maulana's mom told the tabloid. "Yes I want him to stop but nobody comes to help me."
Indonesia is one of the few countries which are yet to sign the UN Tobacco Control Agreement that imposes strict restrictions on marketing cigarettes to a country. Indonesian health officials attributed this reason as a contributing factor to the rise in the number of children smoking cigarettes. "I think the tobacco industry have used all their skills and resources to get hold of these kids. The number of people who have started smoking between five and nine years of age has increased sevenfold," said health minister Dr Nafsiah Mboi.
Watch Aldi smoking cigarettes when he was just two: