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She eats every 15 minutes to stay alive

An American girl, who suffers from a rare and undiagnosed syndrome that prevents her from putting on weight, has to eat every 15 minutes in order to stay alive.

world Updated: Jun 30, 2010 00:30 IST

An American girl, who suffers from a rare and undiagnosed syndrome that prevents her from putting on weight, has to eat every 15 minutes in order to stay alive.

Lizzie Velasquez, 21, from Austin, Texas, who is a communications student, weighs just four stone and has almost zero per cent body fat, but she is not anorexic.

And despite eating up to 60 small meals, which consist of between 5,000 and 8,000 calories, daily, she still weighs just a little over 57 pounds.

"I weigh myself regularly and if I gain even one pound I get really excited," the Telegraph quoted Velasquez, who wears size triple zero clothes, as saying.

"I eat small portions of crisps, sweets, chocolate, pizza, chicken, cake, doughnuts, ice cream, noodles and pop tarts all day long, so I get pretty upset when people accuse me of being anorexic," she explained.

Her mother Rita, 45, a church secretary, who kept track of her daughter's health in dozens of notebooks, said doctors had given up on her surviving and did not expect her to.

Genetic experts they visited could not diagnose her illness, and her case fascinated doctors all over the world. Now she is part of a genetic study run by Professor Abhimanyu Garg, MD, at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Garg and his team now believe Velasquez may have a form of Neonatal Progeroid Syndrome (NPS) which causes accelerated ageing, fat loss from the face and body, and tissue degeneration.