So here is something new. I saw an article on CNN called “College’s Too Fat to Graduate Rule under Fire”. Of course it caught my attention and I had to see what it was all about.

Too Fat to Graduate?
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image by Werwin15

It turns out that in 2006 Lincoln University, a historically black college in Pennsylvania, approved a requirement that any student with a BMI over 30 had to take and pass a fitness course.  If they do not pass, they do not graduate.  Students can test out and they also use waist measurements to help weed out those who have tons of muscle, which can throw off the traditional body mass index measurement.

Now, as the first students under this new requirement are graduating, controversy is rearing its ugly head.  A student at the school wrote an editorial that stated everyone should be required to take the class, not just those already overweight.

I have to say that I agree with her, to a point. My own experience with the normal college phys ed requirement was a bit of a joke. I only had to take the one general class which didn’t teach me much. I was already on my journey at the time, so I did not really get anything new. We actually did some exercise, but mostly field tests like the mile run. Nothing that really teaches you how to workout and eat for life.

With our rising obesity epidemic adding more health and fitness education couldn’t be a bad thing. The problem is, where does the money come from?  Officials at Lincoln said they would love to open the program to everyone however the money simply does not exist to do so.

So they are working to help those who are already at risk. If I had to guess, they probably are not victims of the Freshman 15, that weight has probably been an issue for them most of their lives. Somewhere they have to learn how be active and eat for their health. Society isn’t pointing the way and I think higher education has always been about producing well rounded and educated citizens. This just adds to and complements that mission.

Some would say that not allowing them to graduate might be too harsh. Make them take the class, but don’t tie it to receiving their diploma. The jury is still out for me. I think sometimes drastic times call for drastic measures. Obesity is out of control. Healthcare costs are sky rocketing, partially due to preventable diseases brought on by lifestyle choices. What would the long term impact be of changing the lives of hundreds of students? How can we measure that impact, not just on them, but their families and the families they hope to have one day? At this point we can’t.

So I think this is an interesting experiment. I hope that someone, somewhere, is keeping track of these students and the long term effects.  I would love to see the results, how the students from the class compare with their peers later in life. We might learn something very important-that education is the one of the keys to fighting the obesity epidemic.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Tell me if you think this is a good way to go or has tough love gotten out of control.


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