One of the most talked-about issues since the students’ return to school has been the diminishing quality of dining services on campus. Complaints have been made about the quality and price of the food, as well as the overall scarcity of healthy options on campus. These complaints are all justified but are just the tip of the iceberg of a much larger issue.
Our small university is just one establishment under the scrutiny of the new American health craze. America is known as one of the fattest nations in the world; a recent MSN study claimed that 67 percent of the adult population is overweight or obese. In the last 10 years or so, a multitude of diets have come out, such as Atkins, South Beach and even the Subway diet, all claiming to be the magic fix for the health of the nation.
However, despite the seemingly daily invention of the new thin trick, America is still overweight and shows no signs of losing this weight or reputation. Adult obesity rose in 31 states last year, 22 states experienced an increase for the second year in a row and no state had a rate decrease. The number of obese adults has doubled in just 20 years. This so-called epidemic is not absent on the college campus. While the student body might not seem obese, health problems come in many forms.
The most common college weight gain has been dubbed the “Freshman 15,” referring to the initial weight gain most college freshmen experience. This phenomenon has become so popular it even has its own Web site (http://www.freshmanfifteen.com). Many causes are to blame, specifically extra eating at the dining halls, skipping meals, stress, late nights and alcohol intake, just to name a few.
Some universities have tried to combat this problem; for example, Cornell created the Cornell Healthy Eating Program where students can make appointments for nutritional and health advice. UR has done no such thing, and this seems to contribute to the problem. The scarcity of healthy options on the River Campus is abysmal. However, in contrast, the Goergen Athletic Center is one of the more popular and nicer facilities this campus. Good luck to anyone trying to find an empty machine at around 5 p.m. on any given weekday. It seems that students are trying to make up for eating that chicken dipper sub or drinking that extra Keystone.
But even with the apparent increase in exercise and health consciousness, America is still overweight, and so are America’s campuses. While the exact number of pounds a freshman student gains is a source of constant debate, no one debates that there is a weight gain. With the lack of an appropriate or timely response from the University, students must take it into their own hands to keep from increasing these percentages.
The plain social atmosphere of college often focuses on meals and eating. One of the causes listed for the “Freshman 15” is extra eating at the dining halls.
The all-you-can-eat-style dining halls often put people in dangerous overeating situations. As a freshman last year, I would sit for hours with my friends at Danforth talking, studying and eating. These Danforth sits worsened an already-depressingly unhealthy meal. Refusing the multitudes of ice cream and cookies after an utterly unsatisfying meal often proved more difficult than studying for the next day’s class.
Another listed reason contributing to those 15 pounds was taking out or ordering in food. Anyone who has lived in Sue B. has seen the guy from Yummy Garden or other similarly-named Chinese restaurants slip menus under unknowing freshmen’s doors. How convenient to have a restaurant that carries General Tso’s and mozzarella sticks and delivers until 2 a.m.
Even if you yourself do not order anything, the smell of your friend’s food makes it extremely difficult to avoid having a bite. Unfortunately, that one bite often turns into a few bites and then turns into you eating half the food. So what’s a student to do?
The “Freshman 15” has received national attention and is often listed as one of the main concerns of the incoming college student, yet freshmen still gain weight.
Talking is not doing. Many upperclassmen, myself included, have learned to avoid the Danforth sits or just avoid Danforth in general. The more educated one is, the more easily dangerous situations can be avoided. America is the nation of overweight, obese and overall unhealthy people.
The American college student has a reputation of being daring and rebellious, one who refuses to conform to the nation’s wishes. Why should health be any different? Let us break the mold, take action and change the path of our seemingly inevitable future.
Silk is a member of the class of 2010.