Sunday, February 21, 2016

College Campus Using Fitbit to Combat Freshman 15

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 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!



  1. This article poses a unique and innovative way to combat obesity and weight gain in college. It is no secret that many students do gain weight in college for the various reasons that Joe discusses in his article. Gaining weight can cause detrimental on both the physical and mental health of an individual. Weight gain can cause students to be sluggish, tired, insecure, depressed, and overall unhealthy. Oral Roberts University is on the right track to try and solve this problem by utilizing a device that has become very popular in society and among the college student generation. However, wearing a Fitbit should not be made mandatory for students. At 18 years old, students are capable of making their own decisions. If they find themselves gaining weight and want to enroll in a course that would force them to monitor their exercise, then that is a choice for them to make. Forcing students to monitor their exercise can put added stress on freshman students and can cause further health and mental strains. Joe addresses some great points in the aspect of causing unhealthy competition among students who are competing in step count. The most important part of Oral Roberts University succeeding in their Fitbit course, is to make it a choice. Additionally, the university cannot expect that they will be able to force students to pay for their own Fitbits. If they are making students take a course, they should at least offer discounts or Fitbits for rent for their students. Fitbit is a great tool in monitoring weight gain and exercise, which is an issue for college freshman, however, it cannot be forced upon students.

  2. I feel that this is a great idea but I don't feel that this will encourage students to workout more. The major issue is when people are given these Fitbit devices they will still need to be encouraged to use them. Its honestly motivation that is stopping obese people from wanting to lose weight. The college should rather offer better fitness programs that encourage students to work out even after the classes take place. I would also consider this to be a huge deciding factor when applying for colleges. In high school I only had one semester of gym and then was provided with access to the schools weight room for whenever I wanted to use it. Although this approach doesn't provide much assurance for working out after program ends, it definitely helps. In college there shouldn't need to be this level of guidance to be forced upon someone. College is the time where students have to learn to live on their own without someone being there to hold their hand. This isn't helping in that regard and the program needs some rethinking.


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