Jessica Leonard now: She once weighed 420 pounds

Aged eight, Jessica held the unenviable title of world’s heaviest child, weighing 420 pounds. She preferred to roll rather than walk as her legs couldn’t support her – they curved at the knees, struggling to support her massive weight. Jessica ate every two hours, throwing tantrums whenever her mother, Carolyn Sue, denied her food. 

Sue gave in to Jessica’s desire, blind to the fact that her daughter’s weight posed a major health concern. Social services failed to react to calls from concerned neighbors, inadvertently facilitating Jessica’s rapid and unhealthy weight gain. 

Child services ultimately stepped in after Sue rushed Jessica to the hospital in severe condition. Fortunately, Jessica Leonard recovered and currently lives a healthy life.

Social services responded to concerned calls about Jessica when she was only two years old. At the time, she weighed 110 pounds, which surprisingly didn’t set off any red flags. The authorities left after finding the house tidy and concluding that the family provided everything for Jessica. 

Six years later, Leonard weighed 420 pounds and needed urgent medical attention. Her massive weight pressed on her tiny lungs, making it difficult to breathe. She was close to suffering a heart attack and getting diabetes; she couldn’t sleep at night due to the pressure exerted on her airways – Jessica was on the verge of death. 

“I only ever wanted to be the best mother I could be for my little girl,” Carolyn Sue said (per The Free Library). “Whenever Jessica asked for food, I’d give it to her. And she asked for it every two hours. When I refused, she would throw the most terrible tantrums.”

“I will forever live with the guilt that my little girl almost died.”

After doctors stabilized Leonard, social services placed her in a specialist obesity clinic in New Kent, Virginia. The specialists prescribed a strict diet and exercise regimen that stripped 320 pounds from her frame. 

Social services bound Sue to an agreement that prevented her from pulling Jessica out of treatment. Jessica now lives a healthy life: she consumes low-calorie foods and exercises five times a week. 

“Being separated from my daughter for so long has been tough, but it has all been worth it,” Sue said. “Jessica herself is determined not to regain her weight. She is terrified of going back to being that big again. We are both determined she’ll never regain the weight she has lost.”

Doctors concluded that Jessica suffered from an eating addiction caused by a chemical imbalance in her brain. Nevertheless, the diagnosis provided no excuse for Sue’s tendency to feed Jessica whatever she wanted. 

A feature by Inside Edition showed Sue’s fridge and cupboards stocked with all manner of unhealthy foods. “What’s a mother supposed to do when their baby tells them, ‘Mummy, I’m hungry, I’m starving?’” Sue said

Per day, Leonard consumed a whopping 15,000 calories. Due to the different physiologies children have, it’s difficult to determine the number of calories an eight-year-old child requires. However, experts opine that 1,600 calories are about enough. 

Therefore, at the peak of her indulgence, Leonard was consuming nearly ten times the average calorie intake of an eight-year-old child. An eating disorder couldn’t possibly explain such vast amounts of caloric intake. 

Sue shouldered the blame for her child’s weight, admitting that she gave in to her daughter’s demands for food. She said:

“You know how we in the south like our fried food. She wanted real food – home cooking – and she wanted a lot of it. She would be screaming at me every two hours for me to feed her more. It was like there was nothing I could do to stop her being hungry. I guess after a while I got into a state of denial about Jessica’s size.”

Doctors prescribed medication to help manage Jessica’s addiction to food. She had surgery to reshape her bowed legs and planned to undergo surgery to remove the excess skin she gained due to obesity. 

Carolyn took parenting and nutrition classes, which helped her start her weight loss journey. She feels guilty for letting Jessica’s weight spiral out of control and is determined not to let her get back to that unhealthy weight. Sue said. 

“I admit I did wrong by letting her eat so much. And I cannot describe to you the guilt I feel for the fact that it was a stranger who forced her to get help. I want to be honest and say, yes I was weak – I admit I overindulged her. I realize now that a parent has to be strict and if I child doesn’t like it, well tough.”