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Weight Watching

Weight Watching

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Published by kristyrosem

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Published by: kristyrosem on Jan 15, 2011
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McCluskey 1
Weight watching on a college campus
The healthcare overhaul taking place in the United States is calling attention to measuresthat prevent obesity and the chronic
issues associated with obesity. Ninety percent of today‟s
diabetes cases are type two or adult onset diabetes, and seventy percent of diabetes cases arerelated to obesity, according to Ron Shewcraft, chair of the Physical Education Department atMassachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA).
“Obesity and chronic issues are rising [in the U.S.], and they‟re not going away,” said
“We have more and more kids developing these
chronic issues at younger ages,
hesaid.Though most college students do
n‟t suffer from chronic issues, the lifestyle choices they
make now can have a direct impact on their health in later years. The first year of college has
long been associated with the rumored “freshman fifteen,” which refers to the weight
that manystudents gain soon after they begin college.However, recent research indicates that weight
gain isn‟t restricted to a student‟s first
year. An Indiana State University study found that increased stress and workload in the juniorand senior years contribut
e to weight gain in students‟ later years. The “senior surge” named inthe study indicates that weight gain isn‟t limited to a students‟ first year— 
which could put themon a path towards obesity.MCLA offers a Lifetime Wellness course that promotes healthy lifestyles and discussesthe behaviors that lead to weight gain in college students. The course, taught by ProfessorShewcraft,
“helps students develop a set of health behaviors that constitute… a high energylifestyle,” according to the
MCLA catalog.
McCluskey 2Students in the course complete a number of diet and physical fitness assessments.Shewcraft said,
“I have students say
[on the diet assessments],
„I eat differently since I lefthome.‟ And [they] drink more because they have the freedom to make their own choices.”
 Courtney Wills, a junior at MCLA, said her eating habits have changed since she movedon campus. She commuted to another college in her freshman year, during which time herparents cooked her dinners and did the grocery shopping. Wills said her parents impacted whatshe ate while she lived at home.
“Now I eat a lot of junk food,”
Wills said.
The availability of just being able to go to the
[campus convenience store] really messes with me.”
 Senior Kimberly Capriola said her eating habits changed after she transferred away from
home, which resulted in weight gain that she called “the transfer ten.”
“I ate a lot of Stouffer‟s Mac and Cheese. That was an easy, quick thing to slip in the
microwave, go to my computer, an
d work on homework,” Capriola said.
 Senior Marlene Anago also said her eating habits are different on campus.
She doesn‟t
eat many fruits or vegetables in the campus cafeteria, since she feels her options are limited tothe salad bar. Anago consumes a lot
of soda on campus but doesn‟t drink any while at home.
said, “What‟s offered here is tempting, and I can‟t resist the temptation—it‟s likean addiction.”
 The women cited a lack of healthy options on campus as a factor in their poor eatinghabits. Anago would like a source of healthy food aside from the salad bar.
Wills said, “The salad bar is disgusting, and the food they have that tastes good isincredibly unhealthy.”
McCluskey 3
Capriola felt that the meal plan requirement could be a factor in weight gain. “
People feel
forced to eat this food even if it‟s not what they would normally choose… My friend and former 
housemate is a vegan and they had some options in the cafeteria, but [at] the grocery store she
could giver herself so many more options,” Capriola s
aid.But there have been significant changes in nutritional awareness on campus, according toShewcraft. He said the food is reasonably healthy.
“[Aramark] offers nutrition facts and different options with protein and healthy fats— they know what to do,” he
said. He added that students complain about a lack of options toexcuse their food choices, and that the number of options has increased in recent years.The freedom students experience in college can also have an impact on their physicalactivity. Shewcr
students often say that they used to be more fit because of the clubs andsports they were involved with in high school. Their physical activities and food intake weremonitored in those structured environments.
“When you‟re away from all of that it
catches up with you pretty quickly,
Shewcraftsaid.Capriola played softball and soccer and was on the track team in high school. Shecredited t
he sports with keeping her in shape. “Then I transferred… and tried to focus a lot of my
time on my studies and
the social aspect of college. I wasn‟t playing sports because I wasworking on academics,” she said.
“I gradually gained the „transfer ten,‟ which I coined because I was making fun of it,”Capriola said. “But then it became the transfer twenty and it wasn‟t funny anymore.”

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