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Required Fitness Course For Obese Students -- Is It A Healthy Idea?

It is not usual to require fitness courses in colleges, but it may not be a bad idea. The majority of adults in the United States -- the majority -- are overweight.

This is not a simple problem or one of just "aesthetics" or "body preferences." It can mean life and death. Overweight adults are much more likely to develop diabetes, high blood pressure and strokes. has a story about a university which is requiring a course for overweight students.

Most college students expect to receive their diplomas on the basis of grades, but at a Pennsylvania school, physical fitness matters too.

Students at Lincoln University with a body mass index of 30 or above, reflective of obesity, must take a fitness course that meets three hours per week. Those who are assigned to the class but do not complete it cannot graduate.

There are some complaints that requiring the course for those with an elevated body mass index is discriminatory. Here's what one student had to say:

"I didn't come to Lincoln to be told that my weight is not in an acceptable range," Lawson wrote. "I 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."

How does the university view the problem? Here is the view of James DeBoy, chairman of the school's Department of Health and Physical Education:

"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."

The school certainly seems to be trying to help these students.

One way to do it would be to have the required fitness course for all students. After all, many young adults do fairly well at maintaining a healthy weight, only to gain in later years.

If anything can be done to prevent the slow and deadly weight gain it would be worth it. The students should be thankful that someone at the university cares enough to try to do something about it.


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