Last fall, in an apparent effort to combat current rates of poor diet and obesity, Lincoln University in Pennsylvania required anyone with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 or above to take a fitness course.

Imagine the uprising. Students created such a protest that the university removed the requirement.

Some might argue that grading students in classes such as physical education — even music and art — is subjective. Is it fair to grade a student’s singing ability? What qualifies as an “A” performance in art vs. “D” performance?

What’s most important in education, I think, is that students learn the information. While I’m sure few people have the need to use a calculus derivative on a regular basis, most of us frequently apply the mathematical rules of addition. It may not be important to demonstrate an ability to stay on pitch with middle C, but understanding musical terms, and having knowledge of notes and rhythms can come in handy.

It’s not so different with wellness, I think, and it’s a mistake for our education system to shy away from it at a time when Americans are struggling to stay fit.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. The Centers for Disease Control reports that the majority of states have obesity rates of 25% or above. Generally speaking, we’re not real healthy. And educating students — from the primary grades on up — is a responsible way to inform everyone about overall fitness.

However, I agree with the dissenting students at the university: fitness and health credits, if required, should be required for everyone. Forcing only those who appear to be unfit is unlikely to motivate a long-term change in bad habits.

When I was in college, I took a health and fitness course as part of my degree requirements. One day, with the instructor of the course, my peers and I did a nutritional “breakdown” of a popular fast food hamburger. At the time, I was considerably overweight. Something about detailing the fat, cholesterol, and sub-food contents in a pre-formed hunk of beef did the trick. The education from that one class session was integral to my subsequent fifty-pound weight loss.

But let’s make overall wellness and health courses a standard part of the education system. What students choose to do with the information is, of course, up to them.

As a parent, how will you set the tone for supporting health and fitness programs in your child’s school? And how will you react to their grades?