Good Things Happen When Business, Government Cooperate

By Kenneth S. Allen
May 01, 2014

From time to time I have chided the business community for not getting involved in issues of our state, beyond the narrow topics that affect their bottom lines. South Carolina has a number of challenges that cannot be met by government alone, such as education, healthcare, and environmental matters. There are companies that are working on these and other issues, but improving South Carolina will take the kind of creativity, innovation, and cooperation that has made so many South Carolina companies successful.

So it is great to see Coca-Cola, CVS pharmacies, the Medical University of South Carolina, the S.C. Hospital Association, Upstate Parent, Palmetto Parent, and Lowcountry Parent magazines banding together to address the health of our families with the Family Fit Challenge.

The Challenge also has a governmental component: the families of Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin and Lexington Mayor Steve MacDougall are spotlight families in the Midlands, and the state Legislature has passed a joint resolution praising the effort.

South Carolina ranks seventh in the nation for obesity according to a study by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation. The Centers for Disease Control says 66.9 percent of South Carolina adults are overweight with a body mass index of 25 or greater. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reports that nearly one in three high school students is overweight or obese.

Overweight and obesity have a variety of causes including diet and heredity. But experts agree exercise is a key component of weight control. And that is what the Fit Family Challenge addresses in a fun, competitive way.

The Fit Family Challenge has been going on in North Carolina for several years. This is its first time in South Carolina, the first time the Challenge has been on a statewide basis, rather than in select cities.

Families log into a website ( to register (it’s free) and then for 8 weeks family members keep track of their exercise minutes and healthy eating habits. The more minutes of exercise, the more times the family is entered for prize drawings, including the grand prize of a Universal Orlando® Resort Vacation Package.

The website will direct people to free exercise or nutrition programs for bonus points and offer advice from health professionals.

The state has been divided into three regions for the challenge – Upstate, Midlands, and Lowcountry, overseen by the parenting magazine that serves that region. In the Midlands, the magazine is Palmetto Parent, which is a publication of the company that owns Columbia Business Monthly.

There is a friendly rivalry between the regions to see which families can get out and do more.

Is this going to solve overweight and obesity? No, not on its own. But it is the kind of creative approach, led by the state’s business interests, that will begin to make a difference, and I like it.

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