HOUSTON -

A 9-year-old Houston girl is battling extreme obesity, weighing more than 250 pounds.

One in three American children is considered overweight or obese. But when it's your child, you understand the heartbreak, the fears and the frustration better than anyone else.

One Houston family contacted Local 2, desperate for help in saving their daughter's life.

Mom Camesha Shaw said, "I would say about two years ago, it started getting out of hand."

For Shaniecia Talford, it's a struggle every day just to get around.

Her grandmother, Darlene Harper, said, "She gets out of breath so quick and breathes real hard and it's even hard for her to sleep at night."

At just 4 feet 7 inches, Shaniecia weighs 252 pounds -- as much as an NFL lineman.

Harper pleaded, "She needs help ASAP."

Her family said they've tried everything.

Shaw explained, "A lot of different things -- she's been on a grapefruit juice diet, no rice, no bread, no potatoes, just seems like nothing works."

Last year, the family sought to enroll Shaniecia in an inpatient weight management program, but they said Medicaid denied coverage. It was a devastating blow for this family who fears for Shaniecia's future.

Harper said, "If she doesn't get some help right away, she won't be here long."

Though her family said she doesn't have a thyroid problem or diabetes, Shaniecia is having problems with her right leg, which is bowing under the weight.

Shaniecia only wants one thing -- just to be like the other kids.

We asked her, "What is it that you'd like to be able to do if you didn't have the weight on?"

She answered simply, "Run."

Dr. Sherin Wesley is with the Pediatric and Adolescent Health Center in Pasadena, a partnership with Baylor College of Medicine and the Harris County Hospital District.

"It's alarming, but these are the type of patients that we see here almost regularly in this clinic," Wesley said. "These obese children have a much higher chance of being obese adults and they have those cardiovascular risks doubled and tripled when they become adults."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies kids as obese when their body-mass index is above the 95th percentile.

Wesley said, "It affects (the child's) musculoskeletal (development). It affects their cardiovascular (system), their heart, it affects every part (of their bodies). They have obstructive sleep apnea. When they don't sleep well at night, you don't rest. You do poorly in school. It's one viscous cycle."

When we told Wesley about Shaniecia, she offered to help.

Her approach involves dietitians, psychologists, nutritional counseling and monitoring progress of not just the child, but the entire family.

Wesley explained, "I don't want a special diet for this child. I want this diet for the family to follow. I want the exercise plans for the entire family to follow so it's more realistic."

Harper said, "She can't go another summer, another year like this."

Her family hopes it will be enough to save their little girl.

Wesley said the biggest contributors to childhood obesity tend to be lack of access to parks and healthy food choices.

The Harris County Hospital District offers the Healthy Harvest program which provides affordable, fresh fruits and vegetables to communities that need them the most.

To find a location near you, visit the Harris County Hospital District's website.