Ardi

DO you remember the two-year-old who was addicted to smoking?

Indonesian boy Ardi Rizal shocked the world when his 40 smokes a day habit was revealed seven years ago. Now nine, the young boy has managed to turn his life around. But it has not been without difficulties, with Ardi developing a food addiction when his food weaned him off cigarettes when he was five.

Seven years since the photos emerged of the chain smoking Ardi, he has managed to quit the habit, lose weight and become a “champion” at his primary school. The boy from a remote village in Sumatra became an international concern following backlash of a photo that showed the two-year-old puffing a cigarette while riding his bike.

With government intervention and the help of intensive specialist care, Ardi’s parents were able to wean him off cigarettes, only to have his addiction replaced with an addiction for food.“At first when we were weaning Ardi off the cigarettes he would have terrible tantrums. But he doesn’t want them now,” his mother Diane Rizal said four years ago.

001b90d5adbd43847074c7d7fbbba876Weighing 24kg by age five, Ardi made headlines again for being about 6kg above the ideal weight for a child his age. It led to an investigation into his parents and his community by Indonesia’s Woman’s Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry. “We’ll investigate the parents and community of the toddler,” said Heru Kasidi, a representative from the ministry.

Ardi’s parents revealed that the addiction started when Ardi’s father gave him his first cigarette when he was only 18 months old. By diverting his addiction from cigarettes to food, Ardi’s love for junk food developed so quickly his parents had to seek the help of a nutritionist to fight his new addiction.

So bad was Ardi’s health, the worldwide backlash it received became the force behind the launch of a nationwide campaign to stop child-smoking in Indonesia for good, where weak regulations surrounding the tobacco industry had enabled companies to target young people. Now, with the help of Indonesia’s government and a nutritionist, Ardi has remerged as an addiction-free nine-year-old.

Ardi, who consumed three cans of condensed milk a day, was restricted to a diet consisting of fresh fish, fruit and vegetables to aid him in losing weight. After losing all the excess weight, the now healthy Ardi has managed to keep his addictions at bay by focusing on excelling at school and finishing the fourth-grade. – news.au –

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