College Promotes Healthy Living in Attempt to Lower Student Obesity


By Valerie Polite

In 2012 the American College Health Association National College Health Assessment revealed a study that publicized an increase in the percentage of overweight college students in recent years.  The College, in observance of these studies, has encouraged students to make healthy choices and provides various opportunities in an attempt to lower the rising percentages.

Studies show that, in 2010, more than 28.3 percent of men and 18.3 percent of women were classified as overweight, up from results of 28.0 percent 17.7 percent in 2009.  More than 7.2 percent of college students were categorized as obese opposed to 6.8 percent in 2009.  More recent records indicate numbers have only increased.

The Office of Health Services, located in the Kreiling Hall of the Ammerman campus, hosts a program, known as ‘Nibblers’; a weight clinic offered to all administrators, faculty, staff, and students in an attempt to lower the rising percentage of student obesity.

“Nibblers is a 12 week program and is offered every semester although, only a handful of students sign up for it”, said Agnes Hahn, Director and founder of ‘Nibblers’ and registered Nurse of the Ammerman Campus. “Those few students that do take advantage of it benefit by learning healthy eating and exercise tips, as well as portion control and calorie information according to their body structure.  ‘Nibblers’ encourages realistic weight loss with a weight loss goal of 10 lbs. in 12 weeks.”

Some students are reluctant to join simply because they feel uncomfortable about sharing personal information; however, Hahn strives to keep all information gathered during the 12 week cycle completely confidential.

“I keep all members’ information on index cards and log any progress or improvement on them.  They get locked up at the end of the day so the only person who you’re sharing your information with is the designated nurse recording your weekly weigh-ins,” Hahn.

To guarantee accurate results it is mandatory for each participant to provide their goal weight loss (minimum of 10 1bs) at the first weigh-in, which will take place in the Office of Health Services.  A nurse must verify each weigh-in to determine the accurate amount of weight loss at the completion of the program.

“Unfortunately there are no weekly meetings for ‘Nibblers’ because it is difficult to find a day and time that corresponds to both student and faculty/staff schedules so we try to keep our members motivated to keep coming back in other ways,” Hahn said. “We try and give gifts to the participants to keep them motivated.  Usually at the start of the program, everyone that signs up gets a journal or a pen to track their weight loss status.  In the middle of the 12 week cycle those who lose half the encouraged weight (5lbs) get to choose from our selection of recipe books, recipe folders, and recipe boxes.”

‘Nibblers’ fees include a $0.50 contribution to the program, per person, collected at each weekly weigh-in.  At the conclusion of the program person(s) who meet their goal(s) are awarded for their dedication and share the total money collected over the course of the clinic. Penalties do apply however, that may result in a higher money pot when it comes time to distribute it.  A penalty of $0.10 will be charged to each student or staff member for each pound or part of a pound gained from the previous weigh-in, as well as a $0.50 charge for each missed week.

“There’s no better way to see results than to throw in a cash reward,” said Hannah Gordon, a future student, looking to major in Business Management.  “Just look at “The Biggest Loser”.  Granted the contestants want to lose weight to look and feel better and healthier but that prize money plays a drastically motivating factor.  Honestly, who doesn’t want to lose weight and win money for doing so?  It’s a win win situation.”

‘Nibblers’ also promotes healthy living by encouraging students to take advantage of the Brookhaven Gymnasium, located on the Ammerman campus.  The Brookhaven Gym is available to all students Monday through Friday between the hours of 11:00 AM and 5:00 PM.

The Grant campus, correspondingly with the Ammerman campus, contributes to the promotion of healthy living via the College’s newest facility-The Health, Sports and Education Center (HSEC).  The 250,000 square foot building contains 22 general-purpose classrooms, a 150-seat high-tech lecture hall, computer labs, state-of-the-art laboratories for health sciences and education, a 60,000 square foot field house, and a modern fitness center, available to all students and staff with a valid HSEC membership.

Through both indoor and outdoor facilities the HSEC provides its members with extensive weight-loss opportunities and areas designated for athletics such as basketball, tennis, baseball, softball, soccer, volleyball, swimming, and track/field.

To obtain a HSEC membership on must fill out a Health Club Membership Application and Agreement and agree to the terms and conditions as well as the rules and regulations of the facility. The application can be found at WWW.SunySuffolk.edu/HSECenter under the “Health Club Application” link.

Through motivating and continuous weight clinic programs, new campus facilities, and gym membership opportunities, the College hopes to establish prospective results reflecting a decrease in the rising percentage of student obesity.

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One Comment on “College Promotes Healthy Living in Attempt to Lower Student Obesity”

  1. Kate Says:

    I believe college is a great opportunity to learn how to live a healthier lifestyle in preparation to living on your own. I actually teach an online class similar to this called Vtrim that teaches healthy lifestyle skills and students receive 1 credit for the 12 week class. I’d love to see more initiatives like this.


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