Ardi Rizal, now five years old, made international headlines as a toddler when he was spotted chain-smoking while riding a tricycle in his remote Sumatran village.
The worldwide outrage over the photographs led Indonesia’s government to organise a special rehabilitation treatment for Ardi and launch a nationwide campaign to tackle the problem of child smokers.
Now, two years on, a documentary team in the village filming Ardi’s recovery has found that although the five-year-old has successfully kicked his cigarette habit, he appears to have replaced it with an addiction to fatty snacks.
At first, loved ones were ecstatic that Ardi had managed to give up his vice, but it seems he’s really only replaced it with another dangerous addition.
Ardi’s weight has skyrocketed to 25 kg, thanks to an unhealthy diet of junk food washed down with his favourite beverage, condensed milk.
“He eats a lot,” said Ardi’s mother Dias. As for stopping the youngster, his mother said she’s at a loss. “There are so many people in the house, it’s hard to stop him getting food,” she said.
Worried about his weight gain, Ardi’s parents decided to take him to a nutritionist for medical checks and now they’ve been given advice on how to put him on a healthier diet so he can start to lose some weight.
“Ardi is very overweight, his weight doesn’t match his age,” said nutritionist Fransisca Dewi. “The ideal weight of kids his age is 17-19 kg. He’s 24 kg already. I think it is difficult for them. The mother says Ardi is a spoilt kid. If Diana wants to forbid him eating, it will be hard.”
The nutritionist added, “She will need the cooperation from the entire household. One obvious thing is they let him have too much condensed milk. He drinks three cans a day and eats too many carbohydrates.”
Ardi’s mother is disheartened to hear people still refer to him as “the smoking kid”.
She said the name makes her “feel like they are accusing me of being a bad parent.”