Obesity in the Dorms
By Kennika Freeman
There's nothing like a trip to the C-Store at 10:30 p.m. to get some good late night junk food to end the night just right! For college students, life can sometimes seem like one major hurdle after another. Facing homework from several classes and sometimes outside employment or internship responsibilities, eating a good lunch, or hitting the gym often falls low on the totem poll of priorities. But this behavior has caused a national epidemic of obesity among college-aged students over the last decade.
Of course, many still aren't aware that this is a problem, being that young adults still have relatively fast metabolisms and more or less functional organs that process fats and carbohydrates at a normal rate. Putting aside vanity and other forms of narcissism that would cause someone to diet at this very young age, most students almost immediately change their eating patterns. Certain death awaits any and all students who fail to use the cornucopia of pizza, chicken wings, pita, the dining hall, and various franchised establishments littered throughout the campus.
"If it's late and you're hungry me and my roommates go out to Burger King not far from the campus or we may just order out at Pizza Hut," said Patrick Okosi who is a Junior at BSU.
Collegiate freshman tend to gain weight because class times are irregular, dining hall food becomes redundant, and there is nothing like washing down some pizza and wings with an ice cold soda. If researchers really want to keep the adolescent obesity to a minimum, it should take that 1.3 million dollars and replace the Burger Kings with gourmet salad shops and delis. But, then again, who wants to eat salad at 3:30 a.m. in the morning?
The University of New Hampshire (UNH data), collected from more than 800 undergraduates enrolled in a general-education nutrition course, find that at least one-third of UNH students are overweight or obese, 8 percent of men had metabolic syndrome, 60 percent of men had high blood pressure, and more than two-thirds of women are not meeting their nutritional needs for iron and calcium.
Overweight and obesity increased over time and were higher among males, African Americans, and students of lower socioeconomic position and lower among Asians. Television viewing and in activity were associated with obesity, and disparities in these behaviors partially accounted for excess weight among African Americans.
According to Center for Disease Control (CDC), "In 2000, a total of 38.8 million American adults met the classification of obesity, defined as having a body mass index, BMI, of 30 or more. This total figure represents an estimated 19.6 million men, and 19.2 million women."And that includes college-aged students.
"I think it's the way we live now," says Lauren Williamson who is in the nursing program at BSU. "Everything is hustle bustle, eating on the run, eating large portions or super-sizing portions, eating fried fats, and I don't think students exercise consistently."
Epidemiologists paint a gloomy picture of the health of young people. During the past two decades, a significant increase in obesity and obesity-related disorders such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension has occurred among people in their teens and 20s. Those who are middle-aged have difficulty accepting chronic disease in our own lives; seeing it prematurely affect the younger generation is even more distressing.
Little progress has been made in controlling or preventing obesity, because the cards are stacked against Americans. Obesity is a complex adaptation to existing environments that greatly favor high energy intake and low energy expenditure. Food is everywhere, and it is generally inexpensive, flavorful, large-portioned, and high-calorie. In addition, many tend to rely on energy-saving devices and technology throughout the day, and most of people's waking hours are spent sitting.
No medical breakthrough seems to be on the horizon. Even with continued advances in medicine, scientists are unlikely to discover an effective, safe, and affordable drug that would cure or prevent obesity. From a public health perspective, the best solution remains encouraging positive behavior changes associated with diet and physical activity. However, although obesity is generally acknowledged as a serious problem and difficult to solve, many college and university leaders view helping overweight students as being outside the purview of higher education.