There is no arguing, the world is facing an obesity epidemic. People in my age group, late teens to early twenties, are more overweight than ever due to poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyle. The dreaded Freshman fifteen is a first year college student's biggest nightmare. According to College Parents of America, college meal plans, irregular schedules, food choices served in the dining halls, stress, alcohol consumption and lack of regular exercise are key factors when determining how college students gain weight. The negative effects of obesity on one's health include heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, to name a few of the more than sixty diseases associated with this epidemic. One college decided to do something about it.
To take the initiative and help students combat weight gain, Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma announced that all first year students must wear a Fitbit. A Fitbit is a device that is worn on a person's wrist to track how much physical distance they complete each day. Fitbits are not magical devices to make you thin and healthy, they track movement. All undergrads at Oral Roberts must take a fitness class each semester. The fitness data tracked by the Fitbits will contribute to their fitness class grades. Along with tracking their physical
activity the fitbit's collects heart rate data. Before undergrads physical activity was logged in by hand, by the student. With the introduction of fitbits to the campus, physical movement and heart rates are automatically logged in as soon as the university accesses the Fitbit's data.
Is wearing a device to monitor movement the best way to promote a healthy lifestyle for every individual? Could this backfire? Unhealthy weight loss, even Anorexia, in severe cases could be triggered. One's general self esteem could be affected and an unhealthy competition between students to see who lost more weight, who walked or ran more could become an obsession, causing students to neglect their academics. Many incoming freshman are opposed to wearing a Fitbit, and rightly so. According to dosomething.org only half of college students put on weight during the school year. For those who do put on weight, the average amount that is put on is between two and a half and three and a half pounds.
As a college sophomore, I know how difficult is to manage your health when you have other priorities. Academics, keeping touch with family, and maintaining a social life trumps watching your weight. Having a Fitbit to track your physical activity is a great option to help you achieve certain health goals, if you want one. I might consider wearing one, I work out and try to make smart food choices. However, I wouldn't want to be told it was a mandatory piece of technology that I must purchase and wear to attend a college. Fitbit's retail at around $150, a lot of money for many students. Your health and lifestyle choices are yours to make. Choose wisely, eat healthy and keep moving!