College Student Obesity on the Rise

By Colleen Maidhof

As you rush out of your door for your morning class, you grab a donut and a cup of coffee. You are exhausted from the night before because you had worked overtime. When lunch-time comes around you grab some fast-food, quickly eat it, and then run back to class. After your classes are over for the day you begin to feel a crash coming on. There is no time for a nap because you have work. To resolve this problem you go to a vending machine and buy a candy bar; however, you know you will be regretting your unhealthy eating habits later on in the day, and considering whether to join a gym or not.

If this sounds familiar you’re not alone. Obesity has become a big fat problem in the U.S, and the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure are no longer worries for just the older population. Obesity is on the rise among younger adults.

By 2006, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 28.5 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and 39 were obese. If you count those who are overweight or obese, it leaps to 57 percent.

 This may not seem like a big problem, but this represents a rather large increase over the 1994 rate of 15 percent.

Since 1991 the proportion of obese college-educated Americans increased by more than 49 percent according to a 2001 statistic from the CDC. While those with a high school education and below saw their obesity numbers increase by only about 42 percent during this period.

Why are so many young adults becoming obese? Students on the Ammerman campus believe fast-food, overeating, the lack of exercise, and lack of nutritional information of some foods are the main causes.

 “Students have a lot on their mind already, like work and college. I know that I try my hardest to do the best that I can do at everything thrown at me, and many other college students probably feel pressured like me. I know I should be eating healthier and exercising more, but I just can’t find the time. It bothers me, but it’s difficult to find time to go to a gym while working 3 jobs and going to classes full-time,” Said 22 year-old Fitness Specialist Major John Ortiz.

You can notice while driving that fast-food restaurants overpower the highways. Fast-food is constantly being advertised, it is low-priced, and it is fast. Fast and low-priced food can easily attract anyone on a low budget who is constantly on the go.

 “Healthier foods tend to be more expensive. I prefer fast-food over expensive food any day,” said Ortiz.

Even though a Wendy’s Value Meal may sound appealing the truth is that a Value “Double Stack Burger” has 360 calories alone. If you pair that with a “Value-Sized” Coca-Cola and a “Value-Sized” French Fri your total meal has an outstanding total of 680 calories, 70 MG of cholesterol, and 84 carbohydrates. Sure your meal is low-priced, but it is loaded with excess fat, carbohydrates, and cholesterol.

There are ways to eat healthier at fast-food restaurants. Most restaurants have nutrition charts. Nutrition charts are really important to pay attention to, especially the portion sizes even if you don’t need to lose weight. Most of the time average meals at restaurants have excess calories that our bodies don’t need. Americans tend to over eat, and a big cause of this is our portion sizes, explained Registered Nurse Agnes Hahn on the Ammerman Campus.

 “A lot of students over-eat. You see students carrying two giant slices of pizza, chips, and an energy drink to their tables from the café. It is obviously too much food, but they eat it anyway,” said 20-year old Liberal Arts Major Vicki Treacy.

Amongst blaming fast-food, lack of exercise, and over-eating, the lack of nutritional information in the Cafeteria can also be causing the problem of some student weight gain.

“I pay attention to nutrition fact charts that are provided for me at most restaurants. If Suffolk had nutrition fact charts in the café, I think students would be interested in what they were really consuming. It would be very beneficial in my opinion, and maybe it would get students to pay more attention to what they do consume on a daily basis” said Treacy.

Obesity and unhealthy eating habits amongst college students has become a real problem. Whether you blame your environment, yourself, or perhaps both, a major change needs to be made in college student eating habits. Such a giant increase in obesity can bring upon a frightening glimpse into the future of adults of this generation. Adults who are overweight are at risk for major health problems in their future.

 No matter what your excuse is, stress and obesity can cause a variety of health problems. A simple thing like a healthy diet, cutting down on some food intake, and some exercise can eliminate problems like these down the road, explained Hahn.

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