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Old 11-30-2009, 02:10 AM   #1
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Too fat to pass?

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Overweight students unable to graduate



By Helena Merriman
BBC News

How would you feel if you had studied for your university degree but were unable to graduate because you were overweight?

This is what some students are facing at Lincoln University in the US which has introduced a unique way of tackling obesity.

In 2006, the university in Pennsylvania introduced its Fitness for Life programme with the aim of encouraging students to lose weight.

The premise was that if a student had a body mass index (BMI) - a ratio of weight to height - of above 30, then they should take some college-sanctioned steps to show they had lost weight or at least tried.

The course includes walking, Pilates, exercises and fitness games.

But this year, some students have not completed the course, so they may not be able to graduate.

Professor James L DeBoy, head of the Health, Physical Education and Recreation department at Lincoln University, who proposed the programme, says that around 30 students are unlikely to pass.

"Around 15% of the student population each fall has failed to earn a BMI of less than 30," he told the BBC World Service. So we anticipate two dozen not being able to complete the course."

'It is ridiculous'

Sharifa Riley, a journalism student at Lincoln University who has been reporting on the uproar amongst students, says that losing weight should not be part of the curriculum.

"The BMI requirement is ridiculous," she told the BBC's Newshour programme.

"I am fully aware that obesity is becoming a problem, especially among people our age.

But students come to colleges to get an education...and for me to work for four years to get to the end of my course, and for somebody then to tell me that I cannot graduate because of something to do with my weight, I feel that has nothing to do with university.

"It should not be a requirement. It should be an option."

But Professor DeBoy says that drastic times call for drastic measures.

"We are in the midst of an obesity epidemic in the United States and we know that obesity is associated with certain co-morbidities such as heart disease, diabetes, strokes, selected cancers and muscular skeletal disorders," he says.

A growing problem

Obesity rates in the US are rising.

At a conference on obesity control in the US in August, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that two out of three adults and one out of five children in the US are now obese or overweight.

And according to a study carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US medical system spends around $150bn (£90bn) on treating preventable health conditions caused by obesity - which is twice the amount it spends on fighting cancer.

Professor DeBoy believes that universities now have a responsibility to address this.

"We as an education faculty believe that it is our professional responsibility to be honest with students," he told the BBC's Newshour programme.

"We need to let them know where there might be an impending issue that could put them on a collision course with these health issues down the road.

"And we are responsible for their total well-being, not just the academic, but the emotional and psychological state of our students."

While the US government has set a target of cutting adult obesity rates in all 50 states to 15% by next year, a recent report from the Trust for America's Health has said this target is certain to be missed.
BBC News - US university links exam success to weight loss


Hard to believe that they can hold up their degree just for being obese.
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Old 11-30-2009, 02:50 AM   #2
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At least they should have the guts to show the face of the woman accompanying the story, so she can sue their asses off as they deserve.

Whether it is as reported or not, I don't know. It stinks, of course. I'm sure it's for their own good though, so who cares, right? Anything goes in the fight against immorality.
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Old 11-30-2009, 03:59 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Kieran McConville View Post
Whether it is as reported or not, I don't know.
I don't like "it's for your own good" mandates at all (I do like the no smoking in enclosed public places laws, but think people should be able to smoke outside, in their own homes and cars etc., and shouldn't be denied a job or fired from one because they smoke), but I think some of the reporting on this has been less than completely accurate. I've looked into this a bit more over the past few days and apparently the students only have to take the class and participate -- they don't have to actually lose weight or get their BMI below a certain level. I also believe the class only lasts one term, and the students were informed of the requirement during their freshman or perhaps sophomore years, so it wasn't sprung on them at the last moment.

The thing I don't understand is why the hell didn't the university just make this class a core curriculum phys ed requirement for all students? That way they could get the obese students in the class, but not single them out. Perhaps very physically fit students could test out of the class, just as they often can for other subjects.
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Old 11-30-2009, 04:59 AM   #4
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Or perhaps they could just stay the hell out of people's private business. And teach the fucking course they're there to teach.
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Old 11-30-2009, 05:00 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Kieran McConville View Post
Or perhaps they could just stay the hell out of people's private business. And teach the fucking course they're there to teach.
hey, woah. let's not have any common sense here.
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Old 11-30-2009, 05:23 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Kieran McConville View Post
Or perhaps they could just stay the hell out of people's private business. And teach the fucking course they're there to teach.
True. But nearly all US colleges and universities have a core curriculum or basic general courses that everyone has to take, whether or not those courses are directly related to every major, and often phys ed courses are included in this (at least phys ed courses used to be included -- I haven't been in college for a while). Those general ed courses are part of the deal in US colleges. I don't have any problem with it as a core or general class that everyone has to take. I do have a problem with them singling out students though.

And if a student really does not want to take the class he or she can choose another college (that's how I avoided taking any college level math courses *)


* The year I graduated the college started requiring all incoming freshmen to take at least one math class. My academic advisor was shocked when I pointed out to him the requirements stated math or science not math and science courses were required. I think most people just took a math class when their advisor encouraged it. But I really hated math.... I like to think my refusal to take a math class helped screw over future generations of math phobic students at that college.
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Old 11-30-2009, 05:34 AM   #7
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I don't think phys ed has much place beyond primary and secondary school. These are adults, by the law at least. I certainly get the idea of a core curriculum that all students go through in first year. Since I did that myself, albeit in Australia.
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Old 11-30-2009, 05:45 AM   #8
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edit: i promised i wouldnt come here anymore.
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Old 11-30-2009, 06:22 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Kieran McConville View Post
I don't think phys ed has much place beyond primary and secondary school. These are adults, by the law at least. I certainly get the idea of a core curriculum that all students go through in first year. Since I did that myself, albeit in Australia.
I think one or two phys ed courses are pretty typical for many college degrees here though, so requiring a phys ed class or two for a degree is not unusual. Lincoln University does require a phys ed class in their core curriculum. The problem is that only certain students are required to take a specific (and possibly additional -- although I'm not sure it's additional) class based on their BMI. Every student is required to take HPR 101 -- Wellness, but only some students are required to take HPR 103 -- Fitness For Life. Here's what the advising guide on the Lincoln University website states about the Fitness For Life course:

Quote:
HPR 103 Fitness for Life (by placement only) *
* All freshman students will be tested for B.M.I. (Body Mass Index) and Cardiovascular fitness. Only those who do not meet minimum criteria will be required to complete HPR 103. Testing will occur in September and October 2009.
The simple way around the outcry it is to just have everyone take the damned course. They are all taking a basic phys ed "wellness" course anyway.

I am amazed whoever decided on this policy didn't realise it would not go over well. What the hell were they thinking?
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Old 11-30-2009, 06:29 AM   #10
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This article really piques my pannus.
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Old 11-30-2009, 06:39 AM   #11
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Hard to believe that they can hold up their degree just for being obese.
Well technically it's because they didn't finish the course...

We still had Phys Ed requirements in college when I went, I know many are getting away from it,

I think the way they're going about it is wrong, like Inda said, make everyone take it.
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Old 11-30-2009, 07:38 AM   #12
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I haven't been to college for a while either. I received my Liberal Arts degree in the early eighties. I had to take two courses of my choice, in physical education. But, no one in my classes "failed" due to weight or any other physical limitation. My college offered a wide variety of choices such as swimming, boating, dance, tennis, yoga and etc.

I think it is ridiculous for any college to withhold a degree, based on BMI. It is a form of prejudice and this should be against the law. Suppose these same students couldn't graduate because of gender, sexual orientation, ethnic heritage, religion or age?

It seems to become a "witch hunt" against those who don't look the way. Some idiot group of "they" tell them to. Who is to say, besides a medical doctor, that the young woman in the photo above, isn't healthy. And even if she isn't. She still has every right to pursue a college degree.
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Old 11-30-2009, 07:58 AM   #13
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It seems to become a "witch hunt" against those who don't look the way. Some idiot group of "they" tell them to. Who is to say, besides a medical doctor, that the young woman in the photo above, isn't healthy. And even if she isn't. She still has every right to pursue a college degree.
I don't know, do you really think it's just about "looks"?

The simple fact is that obesity does effect us all in a way, i.e. health ins costs, etc...

*I don't think this is so much about "it's for you own good", what if this is about OUR good? I mean we make smoking laws not because we want smokers to be healthier, but we don't want them effecting those around them. We make traffic laws not to make people better drivers as much as it is to save those around them.

What if this is the same thing?

*devil's advocate
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Old 11-30-2009, 08:16 AM   #14
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I don't know, do you really think it's just about "looks"?

The simple fact is that obesity does effect us all in a way, i.e. health ins costs, etc...

*I don't think this is so much about "it's for you own good", what if this is about OUR good? I mean we make smoking laws not because we want smokers to be healthier, but we don't want them effecting those around them. We make traffic laws not to make people better drivers as much as it is to save those around them.

What if this is the same thing?

*devil's advocate

I understand that this is the devil's advocate argument, since you said it is.

I'll simply remark that I despise it, detest it, hate it with ever fibre of my being.

What if this is the same thing as anti-smoking laws? Well. Um. The awful, evil obese person is also a, er, tax payer, are they not? They are also contributing to the common pool, are they not? Or does that not count?

God, this shit gets me riled up sometimes.

No, at some point you have to just stay the hell out of people's private business and accept that you can't blackmail people, you can't hold everything over them, some things are just not done.
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Old 11-30-2009, 08:25 AM   #15
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We had phys ed core, THREE classes were required to graduate (I took two levels of modern dance, weight lifting and also did gymnastics as extra because I wanted to).

I don't know if I agree, or even care. It is what it is, if someone doesn't like it, go to a different school.
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