A 15-year-old girl who weighs 380lbs due to a rare condition which makes her so hungry she rifles through BINS in search of grub has been crowned a pageant queen.
Anna Hankins has Prader-Willi Syndrome, an incurable genetic disorder which causes low muscle tone, short stature and chronic eating.
The ninth grader was born prematurely and underweight, but as a toddler developed an insatiable appetite and was diagnosed with the condition aged two.
She would pinch food from her parents’ plates, could eat a whole pack of cookies in one go and even rifled through the trash in search of grub.
It became so extreme that her parents started locking the FRIDGE and closets to stop Anna raiding them.
The teenager, of Louisville, Mississippi, is now on a 900 calorie-a-day diet but because her body does not break down food properly, she cannot lose weight.
She needs oxygen to help her breathe and is unable to dress herself of tie her shoelaces because of her size.
Anna’s mum, bank branch manager Jennifer Hankins, 37, said strangers stare and kids ask why she is ‘fat’.
Despite her health issues, the brave teenager loves being center stage and was recently crowned queen in a pageant celebrating women and girls with disabilities.
Precious photos show Anna grinning with her Mississippi winner crown and sash and she is set to represent her state in the national Miss Amazing content in Chicago in August.
Mum-of-two Jennifer said: “When Anna was young we didn’t get a lot of information about Prader-Willi and it was hard to comprehend it.
“We would get up in the morning and in the middle of the night she had gotten up and made a whole cake.
“We would clean her room and find empty food wrappers and candy wrappers – anything she could get her hands on.
“We just didn’t know how to stop it. She got bigger and bigger and bigger.
“She was very sneaky and quick and fast. it would start out as her drinking out of your cup if you had a sugary drink.
“If you’re not looking at the food on your plate she would reach over and grab some.
“We would say, ‘Here’s a cookie,’ and leave a box on the counter. You’d come back and whole pack is gone.
“When she was little, the first words out of her mouth were ‘I’m hungry’ and the last ones were ‘I’m hungry’.
“She eats anything she can get. There isn’t food she doesn’t like. She would get in the garbage can or drink a bowl or milk we hadn’t thrown out.
“She can’t control it. She is hungry all the time.
“You want to feed your child. You don’t want them to be hungry.
“It’s hard to find doctors that understand Prader-Willi, so in the younger days I didn’t know what to do and I would feed her.”
When Anna was 14, Jennifer attended an event at the Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh where she met specialists and learned about the condition.
They told her the diet Anna needs to eat – three meals a day including plenty of vegetables, a little bit of meat, rice, fruit and vitamin supplements.
She cannot have sweets or fatty foods because they cause her to rapidly gain weight, and in spite of the plan she currently tips the scales at 380lbs.
Prader-Willi, which affects one in 15,000 babies born in the US, also causes learning disabilities, behavioral problems and underdeveloped genitals.
Jennifer said taking part in the Miss Amazing pageant has helped Anna be more confident in herself – and she loves getting glammed up for the event.
Anna said: “I have Prader-Willi Syndrome and I get hungry a lot. It can be difficult to deal with sometimes.
“I love Miss Amazing. My favorite thing is singing and makeup and hair.”
Anna first got involved in the pageant world in fourth grade and has since participated in three events, most recently in November, winning the state title each time.
Jennifer, who also has a son, 12-year-old Jack with her husband David, 41, a barge tankerman, said: “We walk into restaurants and people automatically stare at us.
“Little kids will say, ‘Oh my gosh, she is so fat.’ It is because they don’t understand.
“Taking part in Miss Amazing definitely helps with her self esteem, and seeing the other girls that have special needs helps her know she is not the only one.
“She loves getting dressed up, wearing dresses and going up on stage and singing. She loves being the center of attention.
“I cry every time. I get nervous and anxious for her but then she gets up there and shines and can be herself.
“It’s a moment where we can forget about all her problems.”
Lori Brasfield-Sanders, director of Miss Amazing Mississippi, said: “The biggest misconception people have regarding people with disabilities is that they cannot lead full, engaging lives.
“Miss Amazing highlights the special gifts these girls and women do have.
“Anna is an amazing ambassador – she is very popular and she loves participating.
“She spreads joy wherever she goes.”