portion-size-me

12-year-old inspires his family to lose weight

May 14, 2012 at 12:15 PM ET

Ten-year-old Marshall Reid was tired of being bulled about his weight. He was tired of not being able to keep up with the other kids at recess and of having to constantly pull his shirts down to keep his stomach covered.

“One of my classmates actually told me, ‘You know, you don’t look very good. You’re fat,’” Reid told TODAY.

But with the Reid family eating out most nights, it was impossible for the frustrated tween to do much about his weight.

Then Marshall saw the documentary, “Supersize Me,” and he got an idea: Maybe he could do the opposite of what he saw in the movie and eat healthy for 30 days. However, he knew that wouldn’t work without his family’s help.

Marshall went to his mom, Alexandra, and told her things had to change. “I’m done,” he told her. “I’m not doing this anymore. I’m not putting up with this. I’m going to change myself.”

The conversation hit Alexandra Reid hard.

“I knew it came from his heart,” Alexandra told TODAY’S Ann Curry. “It was a sad moment for me because I knew he was hurting and any mother doesn’t want their child hurting.

“I felt like somebody had thrown a brick at me because the amount of parental responsibility that all of a sudden came washing down on me was alarming,” she told TODAY.   

Alexandra’s turnaround was stunningly quick.

“It really didn’t take much convincing,” Marshall told TODAY’s Ann Curry. “My mom jumped right aboard. She’s been a really big help. Everybody’s just been so happy to join along and help me. And once I brought it to their attention, I think they noticed, ‘Wow, we do have this problem.’”

It’s not only the Reid’s problem. An estimated one-third of children ages 2 to 19 are obese or overweight, according to U.S. government statistics. A recent report from the influential Institute of Medicine said fighting America’s weight problem, especially among kids, will require big changes at all levels of society.

 For Marshall and Alexandra, the change started with a project they named “Portion Size Me.” They made a commitment to eat healthier and to exercise more for the next 31 days. They used YouTube to share their progress with Marshall’s dad, an Army lieutenant colonel stationed in Iraq, making videos of the family cooking and eating healthy.

The project paid off. In total, the family has dropped over 70 pounds, 36 of those came from Marshall himself.

“I had a kid come up to me in the hall, and the first thing he says to me is ‘Wow, you look a lot better,’” Marshall told TODAY. “And I’m like, ‘Thanks, Dude,’”

The Reids were so happy with their results they decided to share their project with the rest of the world in a book called, “Portion Size Me: A Kid Driven Plan to a Healthier Family.”

Marshall’s dad wasn’t surprised that his son took the lead in getting his family healthier.

“You know, he’s always been a very good communicator,” Dan Reid told Ann Curry. “He’s very thoughtful about everything that he does. He looked at where he wanted to be and what he was doing and decided what he wanted out of it.”

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