OGDEN -- Memo Diaz wasn't embarrassed to wear a tutu in front of his classmates during a recent assembly because it was all part of sending a message about healthful eating.
"I thought it was fun," Memo said. "My favorite part of the assembly was going up on stage."
Memo, a sixth-grader at James Madison Elementary School, was chosen out of the audience by Intermountain Healthcare actors driving home the message that eating a proper diet and getting plenty of physical activity will pay off in the long run.
The locally produced show, titled "LiVe, the 8 Healthy Habits," already has reached nearly 8,000 Utah students in grades six through nine.
The show, performed by actors William Richardson, Alicia Washington and Jessica Lee, features comedy, music and audience participation.
"We are concerned about the future health of adolescents who struggle with weight issues," said Dr. Tamara Sheffield, a LiVe spokeswoman.
"These assemblies present eight healthy and practical habits that medical experts agree can help young people build good habits for the rest of their lives."
The eight habits are:
* Eating breakfast.
* Eating more fruits and vegetables.
* Limiting or eliminating sweetened drinks.
* Limiting screen time.
* Increasing physical activity.
* Eating meals together as a family.
* Being positive about food.
* Not being critical about weight.
Utah's obesity rates are better than the national average, Sheffield said, but obesity is still a serious issue.
One in four Utah children are overweight or obese, and, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of overweight and obese teenagers has doubled in the past 30 years.
Extra weight can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and asthma.
During the play, the actors asked students to raise their hands if they ate breakfast. Most hands went up. When asked who did not eat breakfast, several hands rose.
"I eat breakfast every day," said student Victor Chavez. "I learned that eating healthy is better for you."
To illustrate their points, the actors did parodies of Shakespeare, "Twilight" and Lady Gaga. They sang in rap style and danced in ballet form.
"It was pretty funny," said student Ever Gutierrez. "I liked the ballet scene the best. It's important to eat with your family and to be active, and I play a lot of sports."
To learn more about the LiVe campaign, go to www.intermountainLiVe.org.