Kent State heavier than nation’s other universites

yan Loew

Course loads aren’t the only things getting heavy on campus.

Kent State students are more overweight than students at other universities nationally, reported a survey administered at random by University Health Services.

Of the 651 students who participated, 22.6 percent reported being overweight based on their sex, height and weight.

“It is high, and it shouldn’t be that high,” said Natalie Caine-Bish, an assistant professor of Family and Consumer Studies. “It is a major concern that we have 18- to 22-year-olds, and a quarter of them are obese.”

This is the first time many college students have been away from home, Caine-Bish said, so they’re overeating — it’s not necessarily food choice.

“Anything is OK in moderation,” she said. “If you want a Big Mac, opt for the side salad instead of the fries. It doesn’t mean you’re eating side salads or grilled chicken all the time.”

But according to Kate Hodges, freshman history major and employee at Ambrosia in the Hub, many students show little control when dining.

“They’ll get the fat-free vanilla, but they’ll get all these mix-ins in it,” she said. “So it seems pointless.”

The mix-ins, Hodges said, can include bits of Kit Kats and Reese’s Cups.

“We have some people who come in and get a large shake everyday,” she said. “I think the thing is you have so many options with your food, and people (get) as much as they can.”

Eating healthy in college is possible, Caine-Bish said, but students often opt for more fatty foods and drinks.

“A lot of them are consuming a lot of alcohol,” Caine-Bish said, “which has a lot of calories.”

What many students lack are a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables, she said.

Nearly 67 percent of students ate just one or two servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Caine-Bush said the recommended daily serving is three to five.

Of a list of general health problems included in the survey, back pain topped the list.

“Obviously obesity has a relationship to that,” Caine-Bish said. “The more weight you’re putting on joints, the more stress you’re putting on (them), and you’re going to increase the injury and pain.”

Other ailments, such as depression, anxiety disorder and high cholesterol, also tie back to obesity, she said.

Thirty-five percent of students participating in the survey didn’t exercise during the week, while 33 percent said they did 1 to 2 days a week.

According to Tasha Richardson-Ledrich, assistant director of operations for the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, there were 555,000 entry card swipes at the center for 2003-04.

Sarah Booth, junior nursing major and facility manager at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, said she hasn’t noticed and changes in the amounts, or sizes, of people coming in to the center.

“I don’t know if specifically I can say I see a big change in the body sizes of people coming in,” Booth said. “College sets up an environment where gaining weight is extremely easy.”

Contact administration reporter Ryan Loew at [email protected].