If your children see you visiting our Greenville gym throughout the week – and if they’ve come to play at our kid care center – they might eventually start asking you questions about health and weight. As first lady Michelle Obama can tell you, it’s an important topic to introduce at an early age. She’s currently working on the issue of childhood obesity through the “Let’s Move!” campaign. While physical activity is an important component of a healthier lifestyle, it’s usually the food aspect that gets kids confused.

A recent ScienceDaily article showed that 30% of children surveyed, ranging in age from 6 to 14, exhibited some kind of unhealthy dietary behaviors, such as excessively worrying about fat content or inappropriately dieting. It’s a side of the child obesity argument that doesn’t often get as much attention, but a valid concern for parents who want to learn the right ways to talk to their kids about food and their bodies.

So how can you talk to kids about it without making them too body-conscious or judging their peers? Here are some tips and talking points:

  • Remember to emphasize health rather than weight. Instead of discussing appearance, talk about the importance of being happy, feeling energized and having strength.
  • Remember to explain that both diet and exercise are integral to a healthy body. Just working out a lot or just reducing food intake doesn’t create the same semblance of health and fitness that a smart strategy involving both provides.
  • Remember to introduce the fact that there is no ideal body size or shape, but that being healthy is important. A healthy body not only makes you look great, but contributes to the way your mind performs and the way you feel.
  • Remember to tell them that food is not the enemy, while discussing the basics about the food pyramid and caloric intake. There are no “bad” foods, and moderation is key.

If you’re trying to discuss weight and health matters with your child, don’t hesitate to let us know. Our fitness counselors can give you additional pointers and perhaps even take your child on a tour of the Pivotal Fitness Greenville athletic club, explaining the equipment and how it helps you feel good about yourself. When they come back to visit, the gym will be demystified for them; they’ll understand what you’re doing while you’re here and you might even become their healthy role model.

In early childhood, kids might receive marks for satisfactory or unsatisfactory behavior. In secondary school, they begin to receive grades A through F. In college, you can pass or fail a class. All of these educational performance symbols culminate in a GPA. But what about a report card that also brings home a BMI?

Arkansas, Massachusetts and New York are among the states listed that are effectively beginning to measures students’ Body Mass Index. In light of new studies chronicling the nation’s rampant child obesity and first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign that targets the issue, schools are contemplating how to take a more active role in shaping children’s health. In most states, physical education is already a mandatory part of any public school curriculum. Seniors often have to pass a health class before they can graduate high school. And advocates continue to seek ways to modify school lunch menus to make them more enticing, healthy and cost-effective for youths. But is it wise for schools to also being weighing and measuring kids and informing them about these statistics? Will young adults benefit from having this information and learning what it means to take responsibility for their weight? Or will it simply provide fodder for the fragile self-esteem issues they already face in these formative years?

To best serve and inform our members, Pivotal Fitness Greenville likes to stay on top of national health and fitness news. And we’d love to hear what you think about these issues. Creating a dialogue and forming a health-invested community is one of the reasons we enjoy being a local, neighborhood gym in Greenville.

So tell us: What would you think about BMIs on report cards in South Carolina?