Overweight students at university in US told to take fitness class or risk diplomas

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    Nov 22, 2009 10:34 PM GMT
    You got to be kidding........
    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/091120/health/health_us_college_graduation_fitness

    PHILADELPHIA - A university's requirement that overweight undergraduates take a fitness course to receive their degrees has raised the hackles of students and the eyebrows of health and legal experts.

    Officials at historically black Lincoln University said Friday that the school is simply concerned about high rates of obesity and diabetes, especially in the African-American community.

    "We know we're in the midst of an obesity epidemic," said James L. DeBoy, chairman of Lincoln's department of health, physical education and recreation. "We have an obligation to address this head on, knowing full well there's going to be some fallout."

    The fallout began this week on Lincoln's campus about 45 miles (70 kilometres) southwest of Philadelphia, where seniors - the first class affected by the mandate - began realizing their last chance to take the class would be this spring.

    Tiana Lawson, a 21-year-old senior, wrote in this week's edition of The Lincolnian, the student newspaper, that she "didn't come to Lincoln to be told that my weight is not in an acceptable range. I came here to get an education."

    In an interview Friday, Lawson said she has no problem with getting healthy or losing weight. But she does have a problem with larger students being singled out.

    "If Lincoln truly is concerned about everyone being healthy, then everyone should have to take this gym class, not just people who happen to be bigger," she said.

    The mandate, which took effect for freshmen entering in fall 2006, requires students to get tested for their body mass index, a measure of weight to height.

    A normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. Students with one that's 30 or above - considered obese - are required to take a class called "Fitness for Life," which meets three hours a week.

    The course involves walking, aerobics, weight training and other physical activities, as well as information on nutrition, stress and sleep, DeBoy said.

    As of this fall, DeBoy estimated about 80 seniors - 16 per cent of the class - had not had their body mass index tested nor taken the fitness class. Some of those students will likely be exempt from taking the class once they get their BMI results, he said.

    Health experts applaud the school's intent, if not its execution. Mark Rothstein, director of the bioethics institute at the University of Louisville's School of Medicine, said being forced to disclose such health information is "at least awkward and often distasteful."

    And it doesn't necessarily lead to the best outcomes, he said, noting that "when the (health) goals are imposed on people, they don't do that well in meeting them."

    DeBoy stressed that students are not required to lose weight or lower their BMI; they must only pass the class through attendance and participation.

    "It's the sound mind and the sound body concept," DeBoy said. "I think the university, to its credit, is trying to be proactive."

    Some experts said recent amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act might lead to exemptions for morbidly obese students, who could argue that participating in the class would be dangerous.

    Also, students need more than exercise, said Marcia Costello, a registered dietitian in the Philadelphia area. The university should make sure its dining halls and vending machines offer healthy choices, she said.

    Costello, an assistant professor of nursing at Villanova University, also noted that body mass index can be misleading. Since muscle weighs more than fat, "it is possible to be overweight and still be physically fit," she said.

    Lawson, a mass communications major, said while she believes her current BMI would exempt her from the class, she's going to take it anyway "because I would like to be healthier."

    "This was a decision that I made," she wrote in The Lincolnian, "and that's the way it ought to be."
  • mcwclewis

    Posts: 1701

    Nov 22, 2009 10:45 PM GMT
    Could be a good idea if they applied it to ALL students.


    Im not sure what their dining halls are like but if they're anything like ours, that should be the first thing changed
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    Nov 22, 2009 11:05 PM GMT
    Oh gawd no... a fitness class.....the horror, the horror

    having been in American university i think it's outrageous that time be taken away from learning all the ultra valuable MMW classes required in order to graduate to teach the kids something that might actually come in useful and be of benefit icon_twisted.gif
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    Nov 22, 2009 11:27 PM GMT
    MsclDrew saidOh gawd no... a fitness class.....the horror, the horror

    having been in American university i think it's outrageous that time be taken away from learning all the ultra valuable MMW classes required in order to graduate to teach the kids something that might actually come in useful and be of benefit icon_twisted.gif


    I am not against the fitness class, just what they are using to determine if you are fat or not. Based on the BMI, I at 6'6" and 230 would have to take the class. Shouldn't bodyfat % be used instead. I worked my ass off and ate properly to get down to 15% body fat, I can run 10K in under 44 minutes regularly, but yet based on their rules I have to take a fitness class? From what I understand about bodybuilders, most of them would have to take the class also.

    And why not the underweight people? The ones that are underweight why aren't they required to take the class?

    So shouldn't everyone be required to take the class? That way no discrimination is done and everyone can learn proper health.
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    Nov 22, 2009 11:47 PM GMT
    gidopey said
    MsclDrew saidOh gawd no... a fitness class.....the horror, the horror

    having been in American university i think it's outrageous that time be taken away from learning all the ultra valuable MMW classes required in order to graduate to teach the kids something that might actually come in useful and be of benefit icon_twisted.gif


    I am not against the fitness class, just what they are using to determine if you are fat or not. Based on the BMI, I at 6'6" and 230 would have to take the class. Shouldn't bodyfat % be used instead. I worked my ass off and ate properly to get down to 15% body fat, I can run 10K in under 44 minutes regularly, but yet based on their rules I have to take a fitness class? From what I understand about bodybuilders, most of them would have to take the class also.

    And why not the underweight people? The ones that are underweight why aren't they required to take the class?

    So shouldn't everyone be required to take the class? That way no discrimination is done and everyone can learn proper health.


    If it's anything like my university was, students would be stuffing down twinkees for a couple of easy credits

    you still need the same credits regardless to graduate so the skinny students probably have the option of a fitness class of more ancient Egyptian algebra
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    Nov 23, 2009 12:10 AM GMT
    I'm gonna pop some low-salt, no butter popcorn and sit back to watch the flames over this one......icon_evil.gif
  • Marshi

    Posts: 196

    Nov 23, 2009 12:19 AM GMT
    MsclDrew said
    gidopey said
    MsclDrew saidOh gawd no... a fitness class.....the horror, the horror

    having been in American university i think it's outrageous that time be taken away from learning all the ultra valuable MMW classes required in order to graduate to teach the kids something that might actually come in useful and be of benefit icon_twisted.gif


    I am not against the fitness class, just what they are using to determine if you are fat or not. Based on the BMI, I at 6'6" and 230 would have to take the class. Shouldn't bodyfat % be used instead. I worked my ass off and ate properly to get down to 15% body fat, I can run 10K in under 44 minutes regularly, but yet based on their rules I have to take a fitness class? From what I understand about bodybuilders, most of them would have to take the class also.

    And why not the underweight people? The ones that are underweight why aren't they required to take the class?

    So shouldn't everyone be required to take the class? That way no discrimination is done and everyone can learn proper health.


    If it's anything like my university was, students would be stuffing down twinkees for a couple of easy credits

    you still need the same credits regardless to graduate so the skinny students probably have the option of a fitness class of more ancient Egyptian algebra


    As long as we don't have to take the class on quantum neutrino fields. I mean won ton burrito meals. I mean... eh whatever.
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    Nov 23, 2009 3:48 AM GMT
    gidopey said

    ..... has raised the hackles of students and the eyebrows of health and legal experts.


    Oddly...no one has even mentioned this part.....sad.

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    Nov 23, 2009 3:51 AM GMT
    I was told that in high school. Was never overweight, just didn't like gym class at the time (they should have had music and air conditioners)

    It's not a bad idea, though. I'd require corporate employees to lose weight as well.
  • HorrorHound

    Posts: 1435

    Nov 23, 2009 3:55 AM GMT
    Back in HS, I used to skip P.E. all the time. It was brutal sometimes. But my class of P.E. in HS consisted of sitting along a row of lockers on a cement slap for well over 45 mins waiting on the coach to tell us to go outside. icon_rolleyes.gif

    Biggest waste of time (for that particular scenario).
  • kietkat

    Posts: 342

    Nov 23, 2009 4:48 AM GMT
    LOL this is college not high school... ADULTS are trying to get an education. Let them choose this "gym class" as option for GE or something but don't make it mandatory. Treating people like children isn't going to make them wanna stay healthy... look at high school gym class and ask whether any of those kids really cared lol.
  • joggerva

    Posts: 731

    Nov 23, 2009 4:57 AM GMT
    I'm certainly not against including a fitness class as a general education class (they already make you take classes unrelated to your major; I'm not sure why health and fitness wouldn't fit in with these types of classes - philosophy, art, literature, etc.).

    I agree with those saying that if they are going to make it a requirement for some students, they should make it a requirement for all students. Weight is only one risk factor for diseases and there are certainly many students that are not overweight who could benefit from such information.

    However, I think it is completely ridiculous to impose a new rule on any student who has already begun (and especially those who have almost completed) their studies. When my university would update their course requirements, it would only apply to the students that came in after the update. I guess every college is different, but I too would have been irate if the year before I graduated I was told I had to squeeze in another class that was not previously a requirement - especially if it was unrelated to my studies.
  • rdberg1957

    Posts: 662

    Nov 23, 2009 5:33 AM GMT
    When I went to the University of Wisconsin, all freshman were required to take physical education and pass a swimming test. Men used to swim nude in those classes. I don't remember much from that class. I didn't pass, however the requirement was dropped. I later took swimming from a very kind teacher who said matter of factly, "everyone learns how to swim in my class, they just do." 1 person dropped the class, the rest of us learned how to swim. She did a lot to reduce our anxiety and didn't force people to do what they were not ready to do.

    Offering the class, offering a discount on tuition for taking the class--great ideas. Punishing people for not taking the class, not so much.
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    Nov 23, 2009 5:36 AM GMT
    I support the stated goal of improving health and fitness through education.
    The goal should apply to EVERY SINGLE STUDENT, not just the ones that may have tested high on the BMI. There is a serious flaw in thinking that everyone with a BMI under 30 is healthy and understands the importance of Health, Fitness and Nutrition. This is discriminatory, and is an inappropriate invasion of privacy, that borders on a HIPAA violation, by singling out someone for a health characteristic and then forcing someone to take a class that tells everyone how you tested.
    Be careful when you support such an infringement of privacy, because you establish a precedent that makes it all the more easy for insurance companies to further discriminate against you for having less that perfect weight and health, or to allow "big brother" to further micromanage into your very personal private life...down to whether you can eat those cookies or have that soda, or if you should buy that 2nd pack of cigarettes, or have that 3rd beer, or have a 2nd child, or can afford to buy another PS3....This 3 hour course should be a general requirement for every student, not just the ones that have a BMI of 30 or higher.
    In all honesty when I was in college, I took several Phys.Ed. courses, just so I could try to learn different sports that I never had much exposure to.
    I tried golf, took swimming lessons, softball and baseball, basketball, kayaking ...as classes. They were useful exposure and exercise and even though I still SUCK really bad at these sports, I do at least know how they are played. Met som really great guys and women in the classes too.
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    Nov 23, 2009 5:38 AM GMT
    ok, we all understand that the way the university is setting it up isn't favorable....


    but the next person that nit-picks at the fucking school is a typical bitchy whore... yeah, imature insult but really...fuck you. sure BMI is bull shit and the way they are "Requiring" the students to take the class isn't the best but if your seriously going to bitch at the school for trying to produce better graduates is just embarrassing... yeah, don't bitch about the messed up curriculum, the shitty profs and other areas to improve... bitch about how they are setting up the the requirement for the class... get real... they are moving in the right direction and for anybody to say otherwise is just a mafia wife to a growing epidemic... ignorant asshole... if ur gunna waste ur time to bitch do it on a better subject.



    what this school is doing is ground breaking and should be applauded... could be better... but I'm a big fan... and yeah sorry for venting but to fight against the school is rediculous
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    Nov 23, 2009 5:51 AM GMT
    gidopey said
    MsclDrew saidOh gawd no... a fitness class.....the horror, the horror

    having been in American university i think it's outrageous that time be taken away from learning all the ultra valuable MMW classes required in order to graduate to teach the kids something that might actually come in useful and be of benefit icon_twisted.gif


    I am not against the fitness class, just what they are using to determine if you are fat or not. Based on the BMI, I at 6'6" and 230 would have to take the class. Shouldn't bodyfat % be used instead. I worked my ass off and ate properly to get down to 15% body fat, I can run 10K in under 44 minutes regularly, but yet based on their rules I have to take a fitness class? From what I understand about bodybuilders, most of them would have to take the class also.

    And why not the underweight people? The ones that are underweight why aren't they required to take the class?

    So shouldn't everyone be required to take the class? That way no discrimination is done and everyone can learn proper health.


    OMGOSH yes O.o My BMI is under 11% at last check - i'm nothing but muscle and bone apparently o.O which is NOT good (although it made the trainers at my gym stare in awe at the low count when they heard how i ate icon_redface.gif ) - i'm way underweight and i would love to pick up some extra poundage and though it doesn't sound like this class is for me - i think something similiar SHOULD be available. Now, whether or not we should be forced into it is another matter...

    I'm sick of life being about the fat kids >< Do you have any idea how annoying it is trying to gain weight "the normal way" when all the best foods (healthy and/or tasty/common) are now almost exclusively low-fat low-calorie etc? pfft....


    Our school requires a "Health/Fitness" course. This could be physical OR just educational. I think requiring one credit hour of physical and one of educational is a PERFECT idea - and EVERYONE should be required to take it. Screening for the "fatsos" is just plain evil -.-
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    Nov 23, 2009 6:00 AM GMT
    Ok... you have to admit people are getting way too out of shape. But to make them go to gym class? That's just not right, the decision is to be made by the students.
    Maybe if they applied it to everyone, it would be ok. But this is pure discrimination.
  • kietkat

    Posts: 342

    Nov 23, 2009 6:07 AM GMT
    track_boi saidok, we all understand that the way the university is setting it up isn't favorable....


    but the next person that nit-picks at the fucking school is a typical bitchy whore... yeah, imature insult but really...fuck you. sure BMI is bull shit and the way they are "Requiring" the students to take the class isn't the best but if your seriously going to bitch at the school for trying to produce better graduates is just embarrassing... yeah, don't bitch about the messed up curriculum, the shitty profs and other areas to improve... bitch about how they are setting up the the requirement for the class... get real... they are moving in the right direction and for anybody to say otherwise is just a mafia wife to a growing epidemic... ignorant asshole... if ur gunna waste ur time to bitch do it on a better subject.



    what this school is doing is ground breaking and should be applauded... could be better... but I'm a big fan... and yeah sorry for venting but to fight against the school is rediculous



    I see your point but I seriously think that the ADULTS in college should decide on their own behalf if they want to be more healthy by taking a "gym class". UC San Diego had no such health BMI requirements when I attended and they're no slouch when it comes to academics and the majority of the students there are fit as well... mostly of their own accord.
  • victor8

    Posts: 237

    Nov 23, 2009 6:12 AM GMT
    i think programs like this need to start in 1st grade...i think its a shame that PE classes have been cut to save monery...just short sighted, physcally responsible programs of americans...who fail miserably at looking at investments over the long hall!!
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    Nov 23, 2009 6:20 AM GMT
    Hmmmmmm, from reading the article...this is like saying, "Sorry fags but you're going to have to go through some therapy so you decrease your sexcapades and spread STDs less often, otherwise we're holding this diploma away from you."

    I agree obesity is a problem. I agree obese people need help. I disagree that they need to be physically fit in order to graduate college. That's really fucking ridiculous and it's discrimination. Physical fitness should not be a prerequisite to giving someone a degree based on their mental performance in college.
  • NickoftheNort...

    Posts: 1416

    Nov 23, 2009 6:41 AM GMT
    The school's intentions may be good, but this plan seems poorly conceived.

    It assumes that only those graduate while overweight / obese would be overweight / obese following their graduation, because it only targets those students rather than targeting the whole student body. These students, depending on the school's course structure, may be burdened with paying for an extra course, prompting lawsuits against the program due to extra cost to those students. Also, as noted above, the program is already weak by focusing on the overhyped Body-Mass-Index, which is not an accurate method of testing for over-weight / obesity.

    If the school wants to promote healthier lifestyles for its students, it should/could:
    • make the exercise / health / wellness course a mandatory course for all students (akin to the Freshmen experience course some colleges have)
    • remove snack and soda vending machines (particularly from dormitories) and replace them with healthier alternatives, such a pure water bottle vending machine
    • continually review its cafeteria / food court cuisine for both healthiness and tastiness (in order to make the healthier food enticing to students weaned on over-salted / over-flavored foods)
    • ensure sensible pathways between school buildings and improve the aesthetics of those paths in order to entice students to use them
    • increase support for and reviews of student organizations focused on physical activity
    • provide a free annual full check-up at the school's medical facilities, including tests for cholesterol
    • lobby nearby high schools and middle schools to implement similar practices
    • offer exercise / health / wellness nighttime courses for non-students in order to promote healthier lifestyles in its nearby community
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    Nov 23, 2009 7:24 AM GMT
    Fat people cost the health care system a lot of money. Since when did being fat become a medical illness like diabetes? Have you noticed?

    I think this is great!
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    Nov 23, 2009 7:34 AM GMT
    Yah right...in h.s. they told us we had to run so many laps (around a full size football field) I was just like...dude...it's not cool for them to be able to tell me "how fit" i should be...so I just walked...until they gave up.

    Sorry, as an adult I'm a fan of fitness, but as a student...I'd be like...FU-Q!

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    Nov 23, 2009 8:22 AM GMT
    gidopey saidYou got to be kidding........
    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/091120/health/health_us_college_graduation_fitness

    PHILADELPHIA - A university's requirement that overweight undergraduates take a fitness course to receive their degrees has raised the hackles of students and the eyebrows of health and legal experts.

    Officials at historically black Lincoln University said Friday that the school is simply concerned about high rates of obesity and diabetes, especially in the African-American community.

    "We know we're in the midst of an obesity epidemic," said James L. DeBoy, chairman of Lincoln's department of health, physical education and recreation. "We have an obligation to address this head on, knowing full well there's going to be some fallout."

    The fallout began this week on Lincoln's campus about 45 miles (70 kilometres) southwest of Philadelphia, where seniors - the first class affected by the mandate - began realizing their last chance to take the class would be this spring.

    Tiana Lawson, a 21-year-old senior, wrote in this week's edition of The Lincolnian, the student newspaper, that she "didn't come to Lincoln to be told that my weight is not in an acceptable range. I came here to get an education."

    In an interview Friday, Lawson said she has no problem with getting healthy or losing weight. But she does have a problem with larger students being singled out.

    "If Lincoln truly is concerned about everyone being healthy, then everyone should have to take this gym class, not just people who happen to be bigger," she said.

    The mandate, which took effect for freshmen entering in fall 2006, requires students to get tested for their body mass index, a measure of weight to height.

    A normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. Students with one that's 30 or above - considered obese - are required to take a class called "Fitness for Life," which meets three hours a week.

    The course involves walking, aerobics, weight training and other physical activities, as well as information on nutrition, stress and sleep, DeBoy said.

    As of this fall, DeBoy estimated about 80 seniors - 16 per cent of the class - had not had their body mass index tested nor taken the fitness class. Some of those students will likely be exempt from taking the class once they get their BMI results, he said.

    Health experts applaud the school's intent, if not its execution. Mark Rothstein, director of the bioethics institute at the University of Louisville's School of Medicine, said being forced to disclose such health information is "at least awkward and often distasteful."

    And it doesn't necessarily lead to the best outcomes, he said, noting that "when the (health) goals are imposed on people, they don't do that well in meeting them."

    DeBoy stressed that students are not required to lose weight or lower their BMI; they must only pass the class through attendance and participation.

    "It's the sound mind and the sound body concept," DeBoy said. "I think the university, to its credit, is trying to be proactive."

    Some experts said recent amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act might lead to exemptions for morbidly obese students, who could argue that participating in the class would be dangerous.

    Also, students need more than exercise, said Marcia Costello, a registered dietitian in the Philadelphia area. The university should make sure its dining halls and vending machines offer healthy choices, she said.

    Costello, an assistant professor of nursing at Villanova University, also noted that body mass index can be misleading. Since muscle weighs more than fat, "it is possible to be overweight and still be physically fit," she said.

    Lawson, a mass communications major, said while she believes her current BMI would exempt her from the class, she's going to take it anyway "because I would like to be healthier."

    "This was a decision that I made," she wrote in The Lincolnian, "and that's the way it ought to be."


    Absolutely going down the right path. With the current obesity pandemic, it's SO IMPORTANT to intervene and at least give fat asses some help of some kind.

    Obesity is BY FAR the biggest killer: about 2.5 MILLION folks annually. That compares with 3100 for all illicit drugs COMBINED. Clearly, we have to get folks to behave better; to care of themselves; to take care of others.

    "A sound mind, and a sound body" go hand in hand for a LIFETIME of health. Being sick, and fat, is NOT natural.

    This step was a leadership move in the right direction. Sometimes, you have to get those who won't help themselves a little push, and, if this saves even a few lives (clearly, it won't hurt any), it's a VERY GOOD THING.

    As part of education, and good balance of mind and body, the class should be required for EVERYONE in the school, and not just the fat asses.
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    Nov 23, 2009 8:25 AM GMT
    Cobalt said
    gidopey said
    MsclDrew saidOh gawd no... a fitness class.....the horror, the horror

    having been in American university i think it's outrageous that time be taken away from learning all the ultra valuable MMW classes required in order to graduate to teach the kids something that might actually come in useful and be of benefit icon_twisted.gif


    I am not against the fitness class, just what they are using to determine if you are fat or not. Based on the BMI, I at 6'6" and 230 would have to take the class. Shouldn't bodyfat % be used instead. I worked my ass off and ate properly to get down to 15% body fat, I can run 10K in under 44 minutes regularly, but yet based on their rules I have to take a fitness class? From what I understand about bodybuilders, most of them would have to take the class also.

    And why not the underweight people? The ones that are underweight why aren't they required to take the class?

    So shouldn't everyone be required to take the class? That way no discrimination is done and everyone can learn proper health.


    OMGOSH yes O.o My BMI is under 11% at last check - i'm nothing but muscle and bone apparently o.O which is NOT good (although it made the trainers at my gym stare in awe at the low count when they heard how i ate icon_redface.gif ) - i'm way underweight and i would love to pick up some extra poundage and though it doesn't sound like this class is for me - i think something similiar SHOULD be available. Now, whether or not we should be forced into it is another matter...

    I'm sick of life being about the fat kids >< Do you have any idea how annoying it is trying to gain weight "the normal way" when all the best foods (healthy and/or tasty/common) are now almost exclusively low-fat low-calorie etc? pfft....


    Our school requires a "Health/Fitness" course. This could be physical OR just educational. I think requiring one credit hour of physical and one of educational is a PERFECT idea - and EVERYONE should be required to take it. Screening for the "fatsos" is just plain evil -.-


    Little buddy, your fat percent may be around 11, but, I assure you, your BMI is not. BMI really isn't a very good measure of active folks, and really only works on sedentary people and has long been outdated. Visceral fat is the real killer contributing to type II diabetes, hypertension, rapid aging, feminization, and list of various cancers.