Lose Weight to Graduate

Lincoln University in Pennsylvania has dropped a required fitness class for students deemed obese.

That idea was wrong in so many ways. Where to begin?

First of all, the required class, ‘Fitness for Life’ would be known as the fat class. It makes fitness seem like some kind of remedial training. Who want’s to be ‘special’ in that way? Kiss of death.

Secondly, you can be fat and healthy, or thin and sick. It happens. Why use weight as the only criteria? Is health just a matter of being thin? That’s easy– take up smoking. Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet. Problem solved.

Obesity is a health problem. It’s not the only one we face, but it’s highly visible. It’s easy to stigmatize fat people because it’s harder to spot other conditions. But you can be thin and in terrible shape.

For health promotion, I have a modest proposal for colleges. First, look at your cafeteria. Are you offering cheap, greasy food and wilted salad, or real food? How much of a priority is it? Second, look at your campus. Is it walkable? Can you make it a livable space where students will walk rather than jump in a car? Do they feel safe on campus?

Third, you need a fitness center that all the students will want to use, so it has to be cool. A Siberia for fat kids won’t do it. Even the kids who want to exercise won’t be caught dead walking in there.

And any student who has done the work and paid the tuition deserves to graduate. If you’re going to hold their graduation hostage– save them the trouble. Just make it a policy not to admit any students over the ideal weight.

Here’s a link to an earlier post, From a Fat Old Nurse, that includes the story of a nurse who was denied graduation by Salve Regina. Sisters of Mercy, where was your’s?

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4 responses

  1. Maybe a bit OT, but I just saw a Forbes Mag rating, and it said that RI is one of the ten least obese states in the nation.

  2. Well, Providence is a good walking city. That helps.

  3. Based on what Klaus shares I find this to be alarming. At the beach this summer I was stunned to see so many teenagers looking obese and I am fully aware that a deficiency in Vitimamin D can cause a prevelance in weight gain. Children and adults are inside on the computers more and are lacking in this area along.

    At the YMCA I watch people walking on the treadmill while talking on the cell phone or playing a phone game and they really aren’t working out hard. Kids are now really visible at the gym and it’s disturbing…not because they are there…but because of the condition in which most appear.

  4. In Edweard Muybridge’s photos of nude models taken in the late 1800′s all the men and women would have led active lives out of necessity. RISD recently had a show of copper engravings that featured a lot of classical nudes.
    The interesting thing is that the women don’t have the fashion body we see today, but were probably more fit. This matters because without a realistic idea of normal and realistic expectations of what exercise can do it’s just disappointment and self hatred.
    I think that a poor diet can make a person obese and malnourished at the same time. Overeating is another temptation. With so much food, so many distractions and so much stress it’s very hard to avoid overweight if you’re inclined that way.

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