Print 35 comment(s) - last by shortylickens.. on Dec 5 at 7:17 AM

  (Source: The Sun UK)
Some of the overweight class body aren't happy with being told to hit the treadmill

Here at DailyTech we often report on medical issues.  One medical problem that commonly intersects with the world of technology is obesity.  With approximately 65 percent of Americans overweight, according to information from IHRSA/ASD, and with somewhere between 100,000 and 350,000 mortalities a year in the U.S. directly related to obesity, the obesity epidemic is reaching crisis proportions.  It now commonly infringes upon technology, both via the need for medical technology and by creating new design requirements (many transportation devices must be reinforced or otherwise altered to accommodate the heavier American population).

Now one college is taking a controversial stand against its student's obesity.  Lincoln University has given its plump students an ultimatum -- take a fitness course that meets three hours per week or don't graduate.

The university has began testing its students body mass indexes.  Those with a BMI above 30 kg/m2 must enroll in the fitness course.  The requirement was rolled out a couple years ago, but is just now gaining attention as the first class of students affected, those entering in the fall of 2006, will soon be looking to graduate.  To make sure those with overly muscular physique (which can give abnormally high BMI) don't get improperly singled out, the school also screens by waist size.

Many of the larger members of the student body are filled with rage, confusion, and/or frustration at the new policy.  Tiana Lawson, 21, an admittedly obese editor for the school's student newspaper, The Lincolnian, wrote a terse review of the policy, saying it is unfair to single out those overweight and demand they exercise.  She writes, "I didn't come to Lincoln to be told that my weight is not in an acceptable range.  came here to get an education which, as a three-time honor student, is something I have been doing quite well, despite the fact that I have a slightly high Body Mass Index."

She concludes, "I'm never going to be comfortable with this class, but I think I would more understanding if this was a requirement for everyone. While I don't think it was the university's intention to make us feel excluded, that is precisely what they have done.   So for now, I'm going to bite the bullet and take the class. Not because Lincoln is requiring me to, (I actually passed the test) but rather, because I would like to be healthier. This was a decision that I made… and that's the way it ought to be."

James DeBoy, chairman of the school's Department of Health and Physical Education defends the policy.  He points out that many colleges have screening systems that single out those with lacking math or communication skills and make them take additional coursework to catch up.  He says that weight policy operates on a similar premise.  In an interview with, he explained, "We, as educators, must tell students when we believe, in our heart of hearts, when certain factors, certain behaviors, attitudes, whatever, are going to hinder that student from achieving and maximizing their life goals.  Obesity is going to rob you of your quality and quantity of life.  We believe that this is unconscionable."

The mandated course, dubbed "Fitness for Life", consists of activities including water aerobics, Tai Bo and aerobic dance.  Approximately 12 to 15 students still have to take the class this year to graduate, according to Mr. DeBoy's estimates.  About 620 students already either took the course or tested out.

Some students support the policy.  Brittnai Panton, a 19-year-old freshman from Decatur, Georgia tested out, but in the interview with, she voiced her support.  She states, "Being in this day and age where people are becoming overweight and need more fitness, I think it's a great idea to earn extra credit, an easy extra credit."

Some lawyers, though, warn that the policy may land the school in legal hot water.  States David Kairys, professor of law at Temple University Law School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, "The part that seems excessive is forcing them to take this course, or to exercise three hours a week, which isn't a bad idea for them, but should be their choice."

He calls the policy "paternalistic" and "intrusive".  According to reports, the Lincoln policy may be the first of its kind in the country.

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Stupid policy
By tmouse on 12/1/2009 8:49:18 AM , Rating: 3
I won't defend obesity, it's clearly a problem that has life threatening consequences for the individuals and economic impact on everyone, BUT this in no way, shape or form should be a "requirement" for a degree. This is stupid plain and simple. If Mr. DeBoy cannot tell the difference between the remedial needs of reading and math which do have an effect on the ability of a student to progress in their academic endeavors and BMI which in no way, shape or form does, they should get a new chairman (one with a brain not poisoned by years of steroid abuse). This is one of the stupidest remarks I have ever heard to justify more support for his department (have NO doubts this is ALL that this "policy " is for). It's not a university's job to ensure your happiness and fulfillment after you graduate. Now I do have obese members of my own family and I try everything I can to encourage them to lose weight, but this is not, nor should it be the duties or responsibilities of an university and making it a requirement is just a waste of money. Maybe next year they will consider enforcing plastic surgery and breast augmentation, since looking "hot" certainly can "maximize their life goals".

RE: Stupid policy
By Lerianis on 12/3/2009 2:05:39 PM , Rating: 1
Excuse me, but it has NO economic impact whatsoever. Yeah, I know: fat people use more medical services.... actually, that is a big fat wrapped in poo LIE!

Most overweight people when it comes down to it use LESS medical services than other people do! Proven by an NIH study no less!

RE: Stupid policy
By fcx56 on 12/4/2009 1:51:56 AM , Rating: 2
Excuse me "NO economic impact"?? How do you think I put myself through college as a server? It certainly wasn't the skinny people running up the tabs!

(I say this partially in jest and tragically with no laughter in my affect)

RE: Stupid policy
By tmouse on 12/4/2009 8:36:27 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry to inform you but your dead wrong. Obesity is a morbidly covariate underlying many medical conditions. Since we have social services that are ultimately paid for by public revenue any condition caused or worsened by this has by definition economic impact. I'm not talking chubby or chunky I clearly said obesity. It will have even greater impact under any form of national health care. Here is a direct qoute from a NIH study as part of its strategic Plan to address the issue of obesity.

" The most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 65 percent of U.S. adults — or about 129.6 million people — are either overweight or obese. In addition to decreasing quality of life and increasing the risk of premature death, obesity and overweight cost the Nation an estimated $117 billion in direct medical costs and indirect costs such as lost wages due to illness"

Here is a link to the plan:

RE: Stupid policy
By mindless1 on 12/5/2009 3:16:47 AM , Rating: 2
There is a mitigating factor. Premature death lowers medical costs in most cases or hadn't you noticed how often the elderly run up obscene medical bills?

That obese guy who drops dead in his 40's from a heart attack, might have the fewest medical bills though if his health were monitored better, maybe he'd be more inclined to watch the excess weight. Chicken and egg perhaps, some make changes when they fall ill beyond some threshold and others try to prevent illness.

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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