Local Children Continue Fight Against Obesity (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Local Children Continue Fight Against Obesity

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:09
I'm Rebecca Sheir. And welcome back to "Metro Connection." Today's show is all about Follow-ups. Since we're checking back in with some of the folks we've previously interviewed on "Metro Connection," like opera star Marquita Lister and Kevin Petty, a former Lorton inmate who's transformed his life in a big way. Now, we'll catch up with several kids we featured a little while back in our five-part series on childhood obesity. Kavitha Cardoza headed first to Olney, Md. to bring us the update.

MS. KAVITHA CARDOZA

00:00:43
It's been more than a year since I met Rachel and her family. She's now taller, in the third grade and much more talkative. Her favorite sport is soccer.

MISS RACHEL FREEDMAN

00:00:52
It's really fun and you move around a lot.

CARDOZA

00:00:55
The last time we talked in December 2010, the Freedman family, Rachel, her brother Stephen and her parents Lois and Bob, had been struggling to make changes that would help Rachel lose weight. They drastically changed what they ate, went on long family walks and cut out treats like ice cream. Rachel weighed 98 pounds then, more than twice the size of an average American 6-year-old. Lois had to shop online so she could find age appropriate clothes.

MS. LOIS FREEDMAN

00:01:23
She's wearing clothes that an adolescent or tween would wear. So it's tight or writing on her backside. You don't want your 6-year-old in that.

CARDOZA

00:01:33
Rachel says she now rarely takes sandwiches to school for lunch. It's mostly fruits and vegetables.

FREEDMAN

00:01:39
Like apples and peanut butter or celery and ranch.

MR. BOB FREEDMAN

00:01:44
What about them saying stuff to you?

FREEDMAN

00:01:45
Some people sometimes make fun of my lunch, but I just ignore them.

CARDOZA

00:01:49
Rachel also fills out what's called the 5-4-3-2-1 Progress Chart every day, where she keeps tabs on herself.

FREEDMAN

00:01:57
Every day I do a checklist of every fruit and vegetable I have. And I have to get at least five servings, but I usually get a lot, lot more. It also says you should have at least four glasses of water a day and I do that. And it says three servings of dairy and I usually get two.

CARDOZA

00:02:22
The chart calls for no more than two hours of any electronics and at least one hour of physical activity. She gets at least 30 minutes. The checks are added up and she exchanges what she calls sweaty points for a family movie or her favorite, a pedicure.

FREEDMAN

00:02:36
It's a blue background and it's like there's snow on them.

FREEDMAN

00:02:41
What's the other thing that happens just because?

FREEDMAN

00:02:44
You feel good?

FREEDMAN

00:02:46
I feel good and I'm really happy.

FREEDMAN

00:02:48
And?

FREEDMAN

00:02:48
And?

FREEDMAN

00:02:49
Healthy.

FREEDMAN

00:02:49
Yeah.

CARDOZA

00:02:50
Over the summer, Rachel gained 7 pounds. Lois and Bob were devastated. But they think, they hope they may recently have turned a corner.

FREEDMAN

00:03:00
Just two months ago we had our first appointment where Rachel lost weight.

CARDOZA

00:03:04
She lost 3 pounds and weighs 112.

FREEDMAN

00:03:08
Lois and I were actually in tears. We were so overwhelmed by four years' worth of work finally showing through.

CARDOZA

00:03:16
The Freedmans have a co-pay of $250 every month for Rachel's visits to a specialized clinic. Every decision they make has to factor in food and exercise. But they say they'll keep trying because the main goal is that Rachel feels good, is happy and stays healthy.

CARDOZA

00:03:42
More than 30 miles away, in Southeast D.C., Saquonte Wilkinson and his two little brothers bask in their mother Shaquinta's attention as she makes sure they're all bundled up. Saquonte is now 18 and a senior in high school. He says he's lost 15 pounds.

MR. SAQUONTE WILKINSON

00:03:57
I've cut out soda out of my diet and candy. I'm not 315 anymore. I'm almost exactly 300 pounds.

CARDOZA

00:04:04
Saquonte now picks the grilled chicken instead of the Big Mac at McDonald's. For a while he played on the school football team and sometimes walks a mile to school instead of taking the bus. He'd like to lose another 100 pounds and is considering bariatric surgery. When we spoke last, his girlfriend had just broken his heart.

WILKINSON

00:04:23
She would say stuff like, you're too fat to do this or she doesn't go with fat people. And the sad thing about it was when I found out about her cheating on me, it was Valentine's Day.

CARDOZA

00:04:32
Now he says having a girlfriend is what makes him want to lose weight.

WILKINSON

00:04:36
Because nowadays, girls only care about dudes. Like, they don't care about somebody who is nice.

CARDOZA

00:04:41
Shaquinta says she tries to pick up tips for helping her son, such as correct portion sizes, from TV. She's bought a stationary bike. But she blames herself a lot, saying when he was younger she didn't let him go outside to play after school because of shootings.

MS. SHAQUINTA WILKINSON

00:04:56
Once you shield a child and keep them in the house, what is a child to do but watch TV and eat?

CARDOZA

00:05:02
Saquonte has just moved into a residential program run by his school. His mother says the school limits portion sizes and they have dinner earlier, so she's hoping Saquonte may lose weight faster. She says she worries when he gets depressed and tries to keep his spirits up.

WILKINSON

00:05:18
He's the perfect child for me. We just have to work on it.

CARDOZA

00:05:22
Saquonte and his mother still need help understanding basic information about nutrition and crave practical steps to help him lose weight. He's hopeful.

WILKINSON

00:05:32
And I'm the kind of person who was raised to never give up.

CARDOZA

00:05:34
For now he's taking it one day at a time. I'm Kavitha Cardoza.
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