They changed our whole lifestyle, as a family.

-Tawanda Wilkens, mom

When the team at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital (MWPH) first met Quran Cox, he was overweight and needed to slim down. His father has diabetes and high blood pressure, and his mother, Tawanda Wilkens, worried that Quran was following in his footsteps. So, his primary care physician referred him to MWPH’s Weigh Smart® program.

The Weigh Smart® program is a multidisciplinary, comprehensive approach to weight management involving medical, nutritional, educational and behavioral components. The goal is to help children acquire healthy eating and exercise habits that will last a lifetime. There are two tracks—group or individual—specially designed to address the unique needs of each family and child. 

Through a 10-week group program, recommended for the family after an initial evaluation, Quran played exercise games, did cardio on the treadmill, and learned proper nutrition. With his parents participating too, Quran learned how to track what he eats using food logs. He used a pedometer to monitor his steps for the day. He participated in demonstrations on how to read food labels.

He learned the traffic light model, where red foods (soda and fried or fast foods) should be avoided, yellows (breads, potatoes and dairy) occasionally or in moderation, and greens (fruits, vegetables and lean meats) eaten every day. He learned about MyPlate, the food pyramid, and apps for tracking daily caloric intake. His favorite parts of the program were playing basketball and hanging out with his new friends.

Today, Quran weighs less and is more active. He makes healthier choices, talks to his friends about making healthy choices, watches what he eats, reads food labels, and takes healthier snacks to school. He’s not consuming large amounts of sugary drinks anymore, opting for water instead.

Recently, during a FitnessGram (or fitness test) at school, Quran had to run around the gym—he ran 48 out of 50 laps! “I wouldn’t have been able to do it before without the Weigh Smart® program,” or his mom’s support, he says. “She encouraged me, like staff, to be a better person and try to lose weight. Even when I wanted to eat sweets, she didn’t let me. She was the Weigh Smart® program at home.”

Tawanda says the program played a big part in not only Quran’s life, but the entire family’s too. They try to stick to many of the same guidelines and principles learned in group, like eating baked instead of fried foods, replacing soda with water, and staying away from sweets. “We were all eating unhealthy,” she says. “They changed our whole lifestyle, as a family.”

Tawanda was surprised how little they knew about what they were eating before the program. “We would buy a lot of different types of foods and never pay attention to food labels,” she says. “We were never concerned with how much sugar was in an 8 oz. bottle of Mountain Dew. We learned it’s not all about exercising—you have to eat a healthy diet too. And eating all of those unhealthy foods was causing me to be exhausted because when you eat healthier you have more energy.”

She says Quran’s not stressed or worried that diabetes or high blood pressure will affect him like his father because he’s already taking steps to control that at a young age. “Without coming to MWPH, I would’ve had a lot of long-term issues with my son’s health,” Tawanda says. “I’m really pleased to be a parent of a child that’s graduated [from Weigh Smart®]. I would recommend this program to any family with a child that is obese.”

Please call 410-367-2222 to discuss current admissions criteria for the Weigh Smart® program. Or visit www.mwph.org/programs/weight-management/weighsmart for more information.