Rare Genetic Condition Makes 10-Year-Old Boy Feel Constantly Hungry

David, a 10-year-old boy from Singapore, was diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome, a complex genetic condition that makes him feel hungry no matter how much he eats.

Imagine filling your stomach with copious amounts of nutritious food and never actually experiencing that sensation of fullness that we know as ‘satiety’. That is what David Soo, a 10-year-old boy from Singapore has to deal with every day of his life. He suffers from a complex rare disease called Prader-Willi Syndrome, which, among other serious symptoms, leaves sufferers feeling hungry regardless of how much they eat. It is caused by the loss of function of genes in a certain region of chromosome 15, and it is incurable.

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Living with Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) is tough, especially for the people looking after the sufferer. Because the urge to constantly eat is so strong, special measures need to be taken in order to ensure that patients don’t eat themselves to death, quite literally. Morbid obesity is one of the main dangers of dealing with PWS, but it’s not the only one.

Medical literature has recorded numerous cases of PWS sufferers developing holes or tears in their intestines due to the unnatural quantities of foods they ingested, and even gastric tissue necrosis. Other complications include severe bloating and decreased gastric emptying.


RareDiseases.org reports that PWS “compulsion to eat is so overwhelming that people with this disorder, if left unsupervised, may endanger themselves by eating harmful food such as spoiled food or garbage and excessive quantities, harmful to the stomach. Affected children may also exhibit unusual behaviors regarding food including hoarding and/or foraging for food, stealing food, and stealing money to buy food.”

In David Soo’s case, his family goes to great lengths to control his weight, going as far as to lock the kitchen door to ensure he doesn’t overeat. They also set up a very specific eating schedule for him, so that he knows exactly when it’s time for a meal, or when he’ll get a snack.


The good news is that, as long as David’s weight remains under control, his life expectancy and quality of life should be the same as a normal person’s. The problem is that he’ll have to deal with this constant compulsion to eat for the rest of his life, and he probably won’t have his family to look after him forever, so he’ll have to learn to control himself.

Although there is currently no cure for Prader-Willi Syndrome, therapies can help reduce symptoms by focusing on the hormone and developmental deficiencies associated with this rare condition.

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