Students tipping the scales
November 9, 2006
The 2006 results of the American College Health Association National College Health Assessment show UWRF students have reached the overweight category as their body mass indexes (BMI) are higher than the 2005 national average of 23.31 for females and 24.57 for males.
The assessment placed the BMI rates for UWRF students as 25.21 for females and males at 25.49, which fit into the “overweight” BMI values from 25-29. A BMI is a number showing body weight adjusted for height, and is calculated as 703 x weight(lbs)/height(in).
The outcome of the assessment is not a surprise to UWRF senior Brandi Stillings. Since transferring here three years ago, the 22-year-old marketing communications major has been watching the numbers of heavier students grow.
“I have kind of been noticing that there has been a bigger percentage of overweight people here,” she said.
Student Health Services (SHS) Health Educator Keven Syverson said there is a reason behind UWRF’s results and the national trend of expanding waistlines.
“Physical activity levels nationally are declining,” he said.
Syverson said this behavior is concerning because it can lead to “creeping obesity,” where an individual gains “one or two pounds a year — over 10 years that can be 20 pounds.”
Stacy Dekkers, a health and human performance major, is tracking the health of UWRF students who live in dorms by doing body composition tests.
The three tests consist of body fat percentage, BMI calculations, and a basal metabolic rate test, which measures the number of calories a person burns naturally every day.
These tests give students in every UWRF dorm an idea of what their weight really means. Through the body composition test outcomes, Dekkers has found a common theme among UWRF students.
“Weight is a huge factor in why people want to get physically active,” she said.
While the simple thought of working out can make some people sweat, being physically active does not mean spending tons of time in the gym.
SHS Director Alice Reilly-Myklebust said any amount of exercise students have time for will help them either lose or maintain their weight.
“Incorporating activity into your daily life, even five or 10 minutes here and there, will add up,” she said.
Eating well is another major part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. While UWRF cannot regulate students who live off campus, those who live in dorms are required to have a meal plan.
Chartwells Director of Dining Services Jennifer Conde said UWRF students have a constant supply of healthy food choices.
“Our chef and food service director at UWRF have completed a 10-hour Nutrition
Certification Program coordinated through Fraingham University,” she said. “Recipes from this program are incorporated into the existing food options so students always have a healthy choice.”
The lessons learned through the program have been put in place on campus.
“Menus rotate on an eight-week cycle to keep options fresh,” Conde said. “Additionally, Chartwells always provides fresh fruits and a full salad bar with low-fat dressing options. Deli style sandwiches and low-fat soups are available as well.”
With the variety of food choices offered, UWRF Dining Services Director Jerry Waller said there is one factor students should keep in mind concerning weight.
“It is a matter of choice,” Waller said of what and how much food an individual consumes.
After living in a UWRF dorm, Paul Karklus is one student who prefers cooking his own food.
“Realistically, you have no choice to have a meal plan,” 23-year-old Karklus said.
Though he was required to use the dining services when he lived in a dorm, Karklus said he would have eaten better if he bought his own groceries.
“The food that they serve here is shit,” he said, suggesting the University could provide “food with better nutritional value.”
Karklus’ hope of improved nutrition is one that Conde said is being looked at by Dining Services.
“When the new University Center [Student Center] opens, there will be a station dedicated to healthy menu options utilizing recipes from the Balanced Choices collection,” she said. “A hot entrée, a vegetarian entrée, a side and a salad will be offered daily at lunch and dinner. This is in addition to other fresh menu options, which will include stir-fry, deli sandwiches, soups, salads and home-style entrées.”
For SHS nurse Lori Otto, teaching students to live a healthy lifestyle is helping them to understand the difference from being “fixated to a number” on a scale and “accepting themselves for who they are.”
“We want students to be healthy,” she said. “If they accept themselves at an unhealthy weight, then we want to work with them.”