But how do you talk to a child about a weight problem without shattering their self-esteem?
"I had low self esteem and I felt alone and people would tease me on the school bus.
I kept it all bottled up because nobody else understood what I was going through."
Michaela suffered in silence. Her mother felt her pain.
"I would catch her in the closet hiding, with food, crying."
Mary Ann McNutt took the first step a couple of years ago by losing weight herself.
"I wanted to be a role model."
It worked. Combined, this mother-daughter duo has lost more than 150 pounds. Their story is now inspiring others.
"I felt like I finally had somebody to talk to. Somebody that understood."
9-year-old Sophia Coscia approached Michaela in the hallway at school and told her she wanted to lose weight.
"I felt really bad about myself."
The McNutt's are now helping both Sophia and her mother Maria make healthy changes.
They exercise together, talk about how to read food labels and why portion control is key.
"Parents have to be involved. They have to be accountable to it."
"We as a family need to work on making some healthier changes"
Dr. Edwards agrees weight is a family affair.
She says stocking the pantry with better food choices is a great place to start.
The focus shouldn't be the number on the scale.
"It's not the weight were worried about so much, it's the habits that create that weight."
That's a concept Maria and Sophia are embracing.
"I wouldn't eat Greek yogurt at all and then I tried some and I liked it."
"We still do ice cream and everything else just not every single night."
Sophia, who says she used to get winded walking to the mailbox, now runs.
Those aren't just baby steps, but giant strides for a third grader who now has an entirely different outlook on life.
Copyright 2015 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.