Ultimate Weigh In

Nicholas Birdsong / Washburn Review

Americans are fat and getting fatter.

More than one third of adults in the United States are considered obese, according to the Center for Disease Control. Average weight across the country has increased since the CDC began compiling data for all states in 1994. At that time no single state had more than 20 percent obesity rates.

The issue spreads beyond our own borders. Average global obesity rates have doubled over the last 20 years, according to a 2008 ABC News article. Despite the global upward trends, the US is still tipping the scales more than any other nation.

“Obesity is what some consider an epidemic,” said Ben Saathoff, assistant director of Fitness and Student Wellness at Washburn University. “Right now the main reasons are lack of exercise, lack of physical activity and the portion sizes are way out of control. Input is just greater than output.”

Washburn students are not immune to the trend. Incoming freshen may face major lifestyle changes when coming to college that can contribute to weight gain. The commonly referenced freshman 15 is a popular way of referring to the additional poundage.

“I knew a lot of people after my freshman year in 2002-2003 that had put on a lot of weight because of it,” said Luke Einsel, Washburn senior.  “People getting new freedom with their diet, overeating or drinking excessively and putting on weight; that was usually the context.”

“I’m sure a lot of it is stress,” said Amanda Phoenix, Washburn student “You can get wound up in your studies and you don’t have time to eat well.”

Fortunately for Washburn students there are many tools available to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. The Student Recreation and Wellness Center provides free fitness assessments and orientation programs to familiarize students with the workout equipment at the center. Fitness classes are held daily that only require registration one hour prior to the class start time.

“Taking part in group exercise is a great way to learn and meet new people,” said Saathoff.

There are many ways to stay fit that don’t require regular trips to the gym. Parking further away from campus can provide an easy and environmentally friendly option saidSaathoff. Avoiding late nights, sugary drinks and alcohol can also help students feel better and avoid weight gain.

Chartwells is making efforts to create a more friendly campus dining experience for students aiming to eat well. A new media campaign will be held this year to encourage healthy eating said Saathoff. Signs posted will indicate foods that are vegetarian, vegan or locally grown foods.