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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RE: Great idea, wrong implementation.
By psypher on 12/1/2009 9:32:59 AM , Rating: 3
They use a waist measurement to weed out those like yourself that have a high muscle mass. Also, it only applies to new students. That's why this year is the first to have students that must take the class. they implemented it three years ago. That means this year, those freshman are set to graduate so they better take the test like all new students.

Also, people bash BMI all the time, but the fact is that unless you do have a lot of muscle, it is pretty damned accurate. I use myself for an example. I am 6'7" and currently weigh about 215. That gives me a BMI of 24.2 which is just inside the normal range. I used to weigh about 270 which was a BMI of 30.4. I can tell you that I was definitely obese. I did not fit into normal size clothes and was generally a fatty. I hid it well though, so people would just think of me as slightly heavy set. At 215 though, I finally look good, just as BMI would indicate. Now I just need to get down a bit further into the "normal" range and get my abs to show a bit.

I would have never thought I had 65 pounds to lose. I always thought I had 20 or so. I like most fat people was delusional about my health. I applaud this class although I think they should take it a step further and include a nutrition aspect to the class. While I did work out more, it was my major change in eating lifestyle that dropped my weight. People need to learn about fiber.

Now back to burning off that last 10 pounds...

By Yawgm0th on 12/1/2009 12:02:08 PM , Rating: 2
They use a waist measurement to weed out those like yourself that have a high muscle mass.
That's something, but it doesn't really address the issue.

Also, people bash BMI all the time, but the fact is that unless you do have a lot of muscle, it is pretty damned accurate.
Accurate in what sense? What does it measure? Nothing, to answer my own question. BMI is a measurement of nothing, and defending it is to defend nothing. Your anecdote proves this further. You cite a meaningless number as having a correlation with an arbitrary, subjective state (obesity).

They need to do a body fat measurement. Even the more inaccurate methods are far better than BMI. A simple skin fold test would be more effective.

Still, I don't think this makes sense as a mandatory requirement in a post-secondary institution. It doesn't make sense for the institution, particularly, since it will just drive away potential customers (students).

I could see something like this as practical in high school or even middle school, but even there it would be cruel and probably cause more trouble than it's worth.

By mindless1 on 12/5/2009 3:12:52 AM , Rating: 2
Then that's just you. MANY people who have led active lives have a BMI above 25 placing them in the overweight category when they are not overweight.

However, very inactive people it would certainly apply to and more often women since they don't have the ability to build as much muscle, and genetic ectomorph body types.

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