Colleges Should Ensure Health & Wellness

Eat right, stay bright! As shown through many studies, college students are unhealthy. This could be due to poor habits growing up, but most likely, it is due to having their first tastes of freedom after escaping the clutches of high school. It is important for colleges to not only focus on students’ education, but also their well-being. By not teaching students how to stay healthy and exercise, some might not understand the harm it could cause until it is too late.

There are a multitude of reasons that contribute to an unhealthy student, such as an unhealthy lifestyle and lack of physical activity or genetics. Colleges need to start playing a role in promoting healthier lifestyles for students. According to a Northwestern University study, 95% of college students do not eat the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. An unhealthy lifestyle could potentially lead to diseases like obesity or diabetes. If the student were to grow up in a household that relied on only fast food, their eating habits and health would reflect that type of nutrition. Colleges should teach students that healthy eating can be better for you not only in short term but in the long term. Colleges should also educate students about the dangers of unhealthy foods. In class, students are not as likely to learn about health, so it is important that they are informed elsewhere.

Healthy eating classes should be implemented as a graduation requirement in hopes that more students will choose to eat healthier. Easily accessible fruit and vegetable stands instead of chips and candy stands are another option. Prevention is the key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle for students’ future well-being. Not only is prevention important but adding on physical activity could help lengthen the lifespan.

Colleges should teach students the importance of exercising and how it affects their body. In order to motivate students to exercise, they need to first understand why physical activity is necessary. It is very simple to be inactive and much easier and more comfortable than going to the gym or taking a longer route home. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults need about two and a half hours of exercise each week to maintain a healthy weight. In the study at Northwestern University, they also found that over 60 percent of college students do not get enough physical exercise per week. The more students know about the consequences of not exercising, the more they may be motivated to change.

Colleges should also implement more bicycle and running trails around campus independent from the gym to promote exercise. With these good habits, even genetic obesity can be controlled.

According to a study published in PLoS Medicine, even with the obesity gene present, adults that are physically active reduce the obesity effects by about 30 percent. Some students give in to the fact that they have this gene and do not see a point in maintaining their health. A person can have the genetic predisposition to gain weight, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the impact of obesity, which is why it is important to teach these students how to manage their diet and exercise.

Colleges should offer educational programs and counseling sessions for students with genetic obesity. Learning more about the genetic issues in regards to obesity and health can help students understand why they are unable to lose weight quickly. By concentrating on health and wellness, colleges can help students learn to understand and manage their health through mandatory health classes, additional exercising opportunities, educational programs and counseling sessions. It is not only obesity that is important, but having a healthy and active lifestyle can prevent future problems from arising. In recent studies at

Northwestern University, students have been seen to have a higher risk of developing cancer due to unhealthy behaviors in college. While many students are active and healthy, it is the students that are unhealthy that are the concern. Many factors contribute to their health, including an unhealthy lifestyle, physical inactivity and genetics. However, they can all be maintained, prevented or improved. As unhealthy as college students are, if the school helps out by providing the students with these necessary tools and knowledge, then their future might not be so unhealthy after all.

 

Ryan Thai is a fourth-year public health sciences major. He can be reached at ryant2@uci.edu