Required to be Thin: Discrimination in the Name of “Health”

Lincoln University in Pennsylvania has added a new, unusual requirement for its students. In order to graduate from the academic institution, students must either have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of below 30 or they must take an additional fitness class which is not required by the student body’s thinner population. This extra course could increase time (and thus money) spent at the University for obese students.

And beyond that, the BMI isn’t even an accurate tool for measuring health or fitness practices. Some people eat very unhealthily and don’t exercise often, but have a fast metabolism, and thus would have a low BMI because the BMI only takes into account two variables–weight and height. The BMI does not take into account muscle mass, which makes me wonder, will student athletes be subject to the new ruling? After a quick look at their football roster, I have found multiple players with a BMI over 30. Furthermore, the school attacks those who are obese, and subjugates them to different treatment than those who are thin, but fails to address fitness problems such as eating disorders, yo-yo dieting, or over-exercising–all of which are unhealthy, yet are problems that may exist within bodies that “look healthy.”

Basically, I find the whole thing very unsettling. What do you think? Discuss.

Some celebrities and their BMIs. Looks like Sylvester Stallone would have to take an extra course if he went to Lincoln.

82 Responses to Required to be Thin: Discrimination in the Name of “Health”

  1. I think nutrition and a fitness course should be required for everyone.

  2. If I were a demanding student in terms of the quality of the institution where I choose to study at, I’d require the higher staff of Lincoln University to take an IQ test – at the very least.

    A more practical approach would be a tiny slap and the Scorsese-ish question: “What’s da matta witchou?!”

    One thing is to promote good health and well-being. Some sort of programs, whatever. But made so that people volunteer to participate in. This seems to be – as you wrote – discrimination.

    I know Lincoln had to have a low/normal BMI, but this is too much. What next, University for the Obese? Unsettling is the best word.

  3. saratoday says:

    I sense a lawsuit coming.

  4. jtmadhavan says:

    I agree, the statements given by you are to considered for research.

  5. La petite sémantique says:

    The BMI requirement offers an incentive to learn about how to lead a health lifestyle outside of school when food choices aren’t planned (cafeteria) and gym classes aren’t required.

    It forces students to not only work hard on academics (and partying), but to learn how to be active as an adult in the real world.

    It’s not easy balancing work or school with a healthy lifestyle; cooking takes time, making good choices isn’t always easy, and availability of fast food and junk food in this country is astounding.

    I think it is a step in the right direction for turning the nation’s attention to health and wellness not just skinny or fat.

    • The BMI requirement forces students…to work hard…and partying…and to be active as an adult in the real world?

      Are we discussing a drug or something here?

      I do agree with your 4th paragraph. I just can’t see what it has to do with the rest of them. Maybe my BMI isn’t working properly.

  6. teenagegeek says:

    Lol, why don’t they have a thing for if you BMI is too low as well? It’s just as unhealthy.

    Alls fair i love and dieting.

    Catch out a few anorexics.


  7. shoutabyss says:

    I think they can have whatever requirements they want for graduation, as long as all criteria is fully disclosed to potential students before they enroll. If that is the case here, then fine. People can make a free will decision if they want to abide by such a requirement or not. Let the free market decide if the criteria is acceptable or not.

    If they try to enforce something like this retroactively, though, then I think they have a HUGE problem and if I was in that boat, I’d enthusiastically sue ’em. I’d be forced to take steps.

  8. brilliantmindbrokenbody says:

    It always makes me wince when BMI is used as a measure of health.

    And as you’ve implied – EVEN IF it was an accurate measure, this would be ridiculous measure. Discriminatory, condescending, and punitive.

    I would support a school choosing to make a healthy lifestyles/good nutrition class a requirement for the entire student body. But a requirement for only part of the student body, based on a factor that studies have suggested is beyond our control…that’s just outrageous. We wouldn’t require people to take a class based on height, race, or ability/disability.

    This requirement shows something that we see time and again. The idea of the ‘obesity crisis’, a creation of the media, has overruled people’s ability to actually think critically about fat and do a little research. Dieting doesn’t work long term, nor does weight loss surgery. A fairly recent study by UCLA said that it was completely unclear if weight loss actually improved health, but it WAS clear that dieting and the yo-yo weight loss/gain that it causes are actually bad for us.


  9. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Natalie Turner, smasher . smasher said: Yikes – I support a healthy lifestyle, but this is all kinds of wrong. […]

  10. Meg says:

    What if you take the course and you still have a BMI over 30? Can you graduate then? lol

  11. drzeke says:

    Difficulty arises because most Diets are not healthy, and provide little weight loss, an individual can become very stressed when he or she works hard at dieting and gets no reults, Here is where a truthful understanding of Human metabolism is essential. Low fat Diets are very unhealthy, problem is most fats available are not good ones to consume,example here: coconut oil has gotten a very bad rap, but, is perhaps one of the most healthy fats we can consume, (coconut oil has a wide range of positive benefits). The FDA does not support truth in healthy dieting. Infact the FDA has stood in front of lies about nutrition for 80 years. My heart goes out to those struggling to loose weight when they have been duped by the FDA and AMA.

  12. Dreamybee says:

    I’m all for encouraging healthy habits, but this doesn’t seem like the way to do it. How about requiring a nutrition/exercise/cooking course freshman year for all the young adults who are living on their own for the first time-maybe a local health food store or gym would be willing to sponsor?

  13. Kyle Ferrin says:

    I think it’s high time that the BMI be discarded completely. We have ways of measuring health that are more effective than weight to height ratio.
    My current BMI is over 30, but I work out, run, and eat healthy. My blood pressure could use a little work, but other than that, I’m fit as a fiddle.

    According the BMI, even for a 6’3″ guy, I’m OBESE! I’d have to lose around 30 pounds to even be considered overweight!

    BMI doesn’t consider bone structure, frame size, muscle mass, loss of limb, etc. It’s a joke.

    Down with the BMI! Huzzah!

    • David Spira says:

      Superb. Someone said what I was going to say about BMI.

      Here’s a few more points for you:

      What about people who are suffering from disease? People with a thyroid problem can’t graduate? Are ladies going to have to stop taking birth control to lose more weight? What about other medications? Weight gain is a common side-effect of many pharmaceuticals.

      What happens when this school’s attempt at social engineering health pushes students to develop eating disorders?

      If the school is a private institution, they can do as they please… but this is ill-conceived. It shows a lack of forethought, research, and critical thinking. Unlike body size, those are three things you want out of college graduates.

  14. Andrew says:

    Body size has nothing to do with academic achievement.

  15. shoutabyss says:

    I really believe this discussion has absolutely nothing to do with weight, BMI, fitness, health or any other stuff like that. I think this is a discussion about free market decisions.

    If a school says every student has to get a tattoo of Mickey Mouse on their forehead before the graduate, that’s fine and dandy. This is a free country. As long as they disclose that requirement at the time of admissions there is absolutely no issue.

    Make up any requirements you want, let people know before they decide, then the free market will get around to letting you know if your policy is too far out there or not. Perhaps there is a niche market for people who want to go to school with a certain BMI study body.

    As long as it isn’t bait and switch it’s whatever, yo.

    • saratoday says:

      Nowhere on the Lincoln University Admissions homepage or undergraduate application does it say anything about a BMI requirement. Probably because it would be illegal and discriminatory to do so.

  16. HK says:

    Wow! Is this a joke? What a bizarre bit of news. Although I am a big proponent of the importance of exercise, health and encouraging our youth to be healthy – I do not think that this graduation requirement is appropriate at all. It’s ludicrous. Students are paying the University to educate them for a specific career path. The students agree to being tested on their knowledge of the subject, in order to receive a diploma that certifies that they have obtained sufficient knowledge of the course of study and therefore considered competant for a job. IF the students are majoring in the medical, health and fitness fields, I would see that a fitness requirement MIGHT be appropriate. But how in the world is this requirement related to being considered a competant accountant, engineer, artist, or CPO? To FORCE graduates to be thin, and thus “perceivedly healthy” is Orwellian. The fallout will most likely be students choosing to spend their money at a different institution of higher learning. I anticipate the University will quickly change their policies!

  17. RobK says:

    BMI may be a poor metric, but an effort to combat obesity is a welcome sign. Catching an adult at 18 or 19 is a great time to change habits. While it’s true there are genetic cases, many cases of obesity are behavior-based. One can jump up and down and yell about discrimination against, but the 800 lb gorilla in the room is that being obese ain’t fun or exciting! When was the last time you heard someone lamenting the fact that they were no longer obese?

    Addressing the misleading either/or fallacy before someone says it, the alternative is not necessarily an eating disorder. There are myriad ways to live a balanced healthy lives.

    The university’s practical application of its policy may be flawed, but the spirit of the policy (to improve body as well as mind) is indeed nobel. Greater results could be generated by proposing alternative methods for measuring fitness that rejecting the idea of combating obesity out of hand.

    • What if you have – let’s say – this huge healthy 30-plus-BMI body-builder who wants to study at Lincoln (or any uni that adopts this oh-so-smart measure) so he can fulfil his dream of becoming Governor of one of the states?

      Obesity is just a “segment” of the question.
      Instead of forbidding and imposing, they should try to inform and provide guidance.

      Ultimately, I see nothing noble here.

  18. c0smo says:

    i think discrimination in the Name of “Health” is different among other countries.

  19. rob5000 says:


    The obesity crisis is not a media creation. Yes, “crisis” is a bit sensationalist, but really, there are a lot of really overweight people in the US. And frankly, the assertion that being overweight doesn’t effect health (the implication that you’re making with the reference to the UCLA study) is patently absurd.

    You may want to ask your physician if he or she agrees with the that little gem of new-speak. Hey there’s always Kirby Pucketts out there, but wait, isn’t he dead?

    • brilliantmindbrokenbody says:

      I didn’t say ‘being overweight doesn’t affect health’

      I said that we have no clear evidence that losing weight has good effects on health. And we don’t. We know that, for example, a Duke study in 2005 showed that fat people are more likely to survive after a heart attack (, obesity is not actually increasing (, dieting doesn’t actually work (, diet isn’t actually determinative of weight (

      Worse yet are the results of what a diet does to people. Dieting changes the body’s metabolism, making it much lower PERMANENTLY( “The benefits of dieting are simply too small and the potential harms of dieting are too large for it to be recommended as a safe and effective treatment for obesity.” and “There is evidence from largescale observational studies that weight cycling is linked to increased all-cause mortality (Blair, Shaten, Brownell, Collins, & Lissner, 1993; Lee & Paffenbarger, 1992) and to increased mortality from cardiovascular disease (Hamm, Shekelle, & Stamler, 1989). In addition, weight cycling is associated with increased risk for myocardial infarction, stroke, and diabetes (French et al., 1997), increased highdensity lipoprotein cholesterol (Olson et al., 2000), increased systolic and diastolic blood pressure (Kajioka, Tsuzuku, Shimokata, & Sato, 2002), and even suppressed immune function (Shade et al., 2004).” ('t_work.pdf).

      It’s not new-speak, it’s well supported by studies.


      • rob5000 says:

        So if I may clarify your point, you admit that being obese isn’t healthy, but loosing weight doesn’t improve health? Hmm, kind of puts a chap into a difficult position, eh?

        Your reference to the obesity survival paradox is either intentionally misleading of poorly researched. While it’s true that the obese appear have lower mortality rates after heart failure, this is only, and tragically due to a the odious advantage that they are well positioned for the tremendous weight loss caused by the illness. Sounds a little like the bar room anecdotes about how one’s uncle survived a motorcycle wreck ’cause he wasn’t wearin’ no helmet, – therefore helmets are unnecessary in all cases.

        Diet isn’t a determinative of weight? Really? Then I have a little wager for you. I will eat only skinless, roasted chicken and vegetables for one month. You must only eat french fries and cheeseburgers for the same period of time. If, at the end of the month, we are indeed the same respective weights as when we began (keeping all other factors constant, of course), I will give you $1000. If we differ, either way, I win. What do you say?

        Dieting – commonly known as eating fewer, better calories, does work if a sensible regime is followed faithfully. Are you really trying to make the case that sustained consumption of few fewer calories won’t lead to weight lose?

        No, you are referring to a temporary change of eating habits, not keeping a healthy diet as a way of life. No one’s making the case for the former except the hucksters of late night TV. When people refer to going on a ‘diet’ they mean a short-term variation in they way they eat. You are correct, very few obese people are going to successfully slim down by making a temporary change to their lifestyle, (and may well cause other negative side-effects). The change must be permanent and it means exercise as well as other big lifestyle changes. Successfully change to healthier foods and take regular exercise and there are few who will not loose weight and enjoy better physical health (ignoring the other less obvious benefits).

        Looked at from this perspective, there is reason to criticize the school’s policy – it doesn’t do enough! The profound change in lifestyle that accompanies the move to college is a great time to institute these deep and necessary changes. With so much else in flux, adding exercise and introducing long term changes to diet is never going to be easier and may well be one of the greatest services rendered to the student.

      • brilliantmindbrokenbody says:


        You fail to understand that what you can do to your weight in the short term is not sustainable longterm.

        Which is exactly what that article said, if you bothered to read it – you can’t even sustain it over the course of 2 years, even if you maintain exactly the same diet. That works in both directions, as the article addressed – you can’t gain or lose weight. Changing your eating habits affects your metabolism and in the long term, you end up close to the weight you started at.

        Hence the theory of a ‘set point’ – a weight that your body arbitrarily stays near. In order to avoid staying at the set point, you are looking at literal starvation. I’m sure you’ve managed to avoid hearing stories of people who are obese and live on half the number of calories the FDA suggests we eat.

        Did you read a single one of those articles or studies I cited? It sure sounds like you didn’t.

        I think that all people – fat or thin – should emphasize a healthy lifestyle with lots of fresh, unprocessed produce, good lean protein, and exercise.

        But you clearly buy in to the pop fiction that fat is caused by eating habits, to the point where you can’t even acknowledge research that shows your fantasy is wrong.

        Matter of fact, of the people I know, the ones with abysmal eating habits tend to be on the thin side and just have a low set-point.


      • Rob5000 says:

        So does that mean we have a wager?

  20. Debra says:

    BMI was never designed to be a indicator of an individual’s fitness or health measurement.

  21. This is quite possibly the most ridiculous thing that I have heard lately.
    Instead of using BMI, which, I agree is an outdated and unuseful measure, why not have students keep a journal of what it is that they eat each day for a week and have workers from the clinic on campus take a look at it with all students. Those eating patterns are going to be so much more revealing than BMI. We, in this country are not interested in prevention and, it would seem, rather be at the backside of the problem. If people are taught how it eat healthily when they are young, and I mean, basically from birth, we would not run into these ridiculous rules put in place by institutions that have no business doing so. By 18, eating patterns are pretty much engrained and unless students actively want to change, they aren’t going to do so.

  22. so they are no longer there to learn.

    they have to pass a weight amount ( BMI)

    quick all skinny stupid people run to this school you can graduate just by being skinny


  23. Good post mate!! Keep ’em flowing!

  24. I’m 5’9″ and 165 lbs, so my BMI is near overweight. I should workout but I don’t

  25. secularist10 says:

    RobK hit the nail on the head on this one. Like it or not, the fact of the matter is that there is an epidemic of obesity in the US–and that is not an exaggeration, it is a conclusion based on facts, anecdotal and scientific evidence.

    As a private institution, as someone said, this school can do whatever they want, as long as it is clear to everyone participating before making the decision. I don’t think being fat in and of itself has anything to do with aptitude (although in the case of the medical profession, well…), but that’s my belief.

    Now to be a bit controversial: We need more discrimination and shame around fatness in this country, not less. To those who talk about discrimination, let me, as a brown man, clarify something: race is not a choice; gender is not a choice; sexual orientation is not a choice… obesity is a choice, conscious or otherwise.

    Discrimination based on choices is necessarily more legitimate than discrimination based on things for which we have no choice. We can disagree as to how best to fight it (and BMI is certainly an imperfect measure), but fatness must be fought. This is the health of an entire society we are talking about.

    • brilliantmindbrokenbody says:

      So you’d say discrimination based on religion was okay, too? That’s a choice, after all.

      Besides, obesity isn’t a choice. It shows a higher genetic correllation than mental illness, heart disease, or breast cancer, all of which we consider to be inheritable conditions.

      I’m not sure if you’re familiar with other conditions that can lead to weight gain, like pharmaceutical side effects, thyroid disorders, disability, hormonal imbalances, and other medical causes of weight gain. I’ve yet to meet anyone who decided it would be nice to have an underactive thyroid.

      So, shall we shame people for their genes, just because we don’t like the appearance of fat? Seems pretty ridiculous to me.

      If you want to talk about discrimination, let me, as a person with a disability, clarify something: disability is not a choice, race is not a choice, gender is not a choice, sexual orientation is not a choice, and obesity is not a choice.

      To fight for health is an admirable thing. To fight to shame people who we already discriminate against* is being a schoolyard bully. Try a program like HAES – health at every size – that encourages EVERYONE to eat unprocessed foods and more fruits and vegetables, get exercise, get enough sleep, and generally take care of their bodies. It isn’t about size, because size is not a reliable indicia of health. It’s about the fact that all bodies function better when they’re well cared for.


      *studies have shown that people who are obese are less likely to be hired or promoted. See, for example, this article: “In psychological experiments set up to resemble job interviews, the “bosses” consistently pick thin would be employees over fat ones with identical resumes. The psych lab mirrors the real world. Numerous studies show that overweight and obese people, particularly women, are less likely to score jobs for which they’re well qualified. And even if you’re thin, you can undercut your chances of getting a job merely by showing up at the interview with an overweight companion. “Hiring, firing, discipline, training, wages, we’ve got more than 40 studies now in both the lab and the workplace,” says Mark Roehling, a management professor at Michigan State University in East Lansing. “People in all of them tell you they discriminate on the basis of weight. I had one guy tell me there was one kind of person he absolutely wasn’t going to hire – a fat girl. And the punch line is, this guy was overweight himself.””

      • secularist10 says:

        You make some great points. There is no question that genetics plays a role in obesity. And I do agree that sometimes discrimination based on obesity is not fair. But as a general rule, it is more legitimate than many or most people think. You mentioned medical conditions leading to obesity–no argument there, I was talking more about the area of our lifestyle that we can control.

        The idea that obesity all or mostly comes down to genetics, though, runs up against several problems: (1) Americans have gotten significantly fatter since the 1970s or 80s, yet has the gene pool changed? Of course new genes have not appeared out of thin air, so much of it must be due to lifestyle and environment (larger portions, more McDonalds, less physical activity, etc), (2) Americans are among the fattest people in the rich world, yet because they descend from immigrants from other parts of the world (including, mostly, Europe), their genes cannot be unique.

        Regarding discrimination based on religion, of course I am a secularist, so I would say that is more legitimate than discrimination based on gender, for example, since it is a choice. And on cancer and heart disease–those things too can be attributed significantly to lifestyle (eating more fried, greasy food is a risk factor for heart disease, for example).

      • rob5000 says:

        On the issue of legitimate and illegitimate discrimination, I think you may be confusing ‘choice’ and ‘culpability’.

        You’ve clearly spent quite a lot of time researching the subject, which makes it all the more tragic that you’ve come to such erroneous conclusions. You’ve apparently cherry-picked the facts that support your absurd notions that there is no personal responsibility in being obese, and that it’s no more harmful than being fit. This assertion seems at odds with the vast majority of data and conclusions by science, government and medicine.

        I’m curious as why exactly you feel it proper to implicitly make the case for being morbidly over-weight? Do you really think that even the majority of obese people are victims of genes and they’re not really going to lead difficult lives and most probably die early? Do you even think it’s responsible to take such a position?

        The case for genetics as the sole cause of obesity in the majority of cases is weak. The evidence indicates the very few people eat little and gain weight. If you wish to find scientific evidence of this, simply type ‘obesity’ into a search engine and you will find pages upon pages of information on the deleterious effects of being very overweight and the poor case for genetic cause. That research, however, is unnecessary. There are simply too many new cases of obesity for genetics (or an under-active thyroid) to be seen as a primary cause. This is the first paragraph from the CDC’s pamphlet on obesity…

        “More than one third of U.S. adults—more than 72 million people—and 16% of U.S. children are obese. Since 1980, obesity rates for adults have doubled and rates for children have tripled. Obesity rates among all groups in society—irrespective of age, sex, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, education level, or geographic region—have increased markedly.”

        Has the likelihood of having that particular gene tripled in one generation across every singe demographic? Having thyroid glands gone defective en masse? And how have we only allowed that gene to spread to countries like the UK which also has a similar lifestyle to our own?

        No, obesity is primarily caused in the US by poor diet and sedentary lifestyle. And 1/3 of the population obese? That’s not normal and it’s not healthy. As we may soon be all in it together for health care, this trend may soon become everyone’s problem, as we will all be stakeholder’s in each other’s health.

      • secularist10 says:

        Good show, rob5000! Well said

    • steve says:

      People just can’t mind their own business. A person’s weight is their own problem and attempting to solve it for them or force them into compliance with your norm will not solve it, in fact you may delay the internal processes necessary for that individual to arive at true resolution of the ‘problem’, which I quote because many people are likely quite content with their weight regardless of whether you think it is a problem. This particular story is just one instance of the great issue in American society today: making an issue of everything.

      The only epedemic at work here is the mental disease of being constantly worried about everyone else’s business.

      • rob5000 says:

        Obesity kills – ask your doctor about it. Something that kills you is a ‘problem’.

        Over 1/3 of the population is obese according to the US Government. That’s more than 100 million people. More then the entire population of the UK or France. Three times the entire population of Canada. Ten times the population of Sweden.

        When exactly will a disease that kills it’s victims early become an epidemic if not now?

      • rob5000 says:

        Correction – I just double checked and the actual number seems to be slightly less then 100 million at 97m*. The other comparisons still hold, but accuracy is important.

        Rationale-Guidelines on overweight and obesity. Electronic textbook. NHLBI-National heart,lung and blood institute. 20 May 2006.

      • steve says:

        If a person chooses, every day of their life, to live in a way that leads to being overweight, a way that they are perfectly aware leads to being overweight, all the numbers become meaningless and this becomes a discussion about individuality, free will, and purpose, all things which, hopefully, will never be cured.

      • rob5000 says:

        I am, in fact, quite in favor of individual liberties. One can and should exercise their freedoms to the extend that they do not impinge on other’s rights.

        This freedom, however, does not allow for denail of determental effects of certain decisions. Being obese still kills you, as does drinking excessively or smoking 3 packs a day. You may, under law, do any of these things, but I have the right to call you out for poor decision making if you exercise these rights. Your freedom does not insulate you from censure.

        You may wish to never open a book, and live in ignorance. If you attend a University, you are implicitly foregoing your rights to this life of ease (or you will be expelled). The university is, with your permission, trying to make you a better person. You agree to allow them by attending.

  26. Great information on this site which has given me a few ideas that I can check out.

  27. bunkotronics says:

    I went to Lincoln U, graduate studies, and think they should worry about getting its administrative office on a fitness schedule. Sounds like a money-making gambit to me.

  28. Personally, I think this is ridicolous. BMI is not a factor that determines intelligence or creativity. Fair enough it would make students a lot healthier and a healthier body may equal a healthie mind, but as a criteria for graduation – this is clearly wrong.

    I really enjoyed this blog post!

  29. I understand the university’s effort to churn out healthier kids, but this isn’t the way to do it. We live in a crazy society, don’t we? I’d like to see how fit the staff at that university is…I’m just sayin’.

  30. eloahjames says:

    Not only is BMI not an accurate measurement, but this move is especially hypocritical, since the university’s very own canteen provides the students with all the fried food they can eat, from KFC to fried cheese and burgers. If they aren’t even giving the students healthy food, how can they force them to take a class on being healthy?

  31. Being healthy is an important tool that each person needs. However I’m certain there are better ways to encourage students to retain or obtain healthy weights than to not allow them to graduate. And I agree with Poverty_dieter, are the faculty meeting the same requirements they’ve placed upon the students?

  32. Michael says:

    Considering that this is a private school and these students accepted the terms and requirements – there is nothing the public can do.

    Is there anything faulty with BMI? Yes. It is not reliable when the person has tons of muscles. But, is it really that far off elsewhere? Sure, I do believe that people have the right to be whatever weight they want – but 30+ BMI is not “merely a little overweight” – it is obese.

    I can see both sides – it isn’t right to control weight, but it is a private university and 30 BMI is a little on the too much side.

  33. blackwatertown says:

    Bizarre, if true.
    A large step over the line labelled “Too Far”.
    Perhaps, like some airlines, they will require larger students to pay double fees, to cover the cost of them occupying two library spaces?
    Or perhaps it’s a very dodgy attempt to deter larger students from ever applying?

  34. Bill Gardner says:

    At 42, I am 5’10 weigh 210 lbs, and have a 31 inch waste. I have lifted weights for 25 years, and have 6% body fat on a bad day. I am a 31 on the BMIm, even though I have an eight pack and look good enough to be on a fitness magazine cover its a joke and only takes into acount the average person and is not intended for athletes, for women, pencil neck geeks and nerds its fine. (that should cover the professors)

  35. pandabox33 says:

    That is so unfair. I wonder why they are doing this ?
    I mean, if it’s to promote better health, they should pay the extra class those students will have to take and they should change what is offered at the school cafeteria and cafes and in the vending machines.

    While we’re at it, how about checking the BMI of the school staff and directors, professors etc. ? And how about we apply this new directive to them ? Let’s see how they like being discriminated against.

    I weigh 167lbs for 5’6″ and I’m in better shape and have way more muscle than when I weighed 160lbs, I was rounder all over. I go to the gym 4 times a week. I think that doctors telling me that I’m too fat can go to heck and if I was a student at that university I would change schools.

  36. Mari says:

    Although I don’t tend to agree with the assumption that a slightly higher BMI means that a person is unhealthy–I can acknowledge that obesity is becoming a major concern in our country. However, withholding a student’s diploma until he/she fits the school’s BMI “criteria” and further penalizing students by making them pay additional fees for a non-required course–is a bit ridiculous.

    How about instilling a campus-wide culture of healthy living? We all know about the freshman fifteen…or twenty, cases of beer, late night studying eating pizza and ramen and all of the fun things that lead to weight gain in college. In addition, there are people who fall within the “normal” BMI and have awful cholesterol levels. Which is worse– a 30.1 BMI or elevated cholesterol?

    The moral of this story is that I am thankful we live in a country where we can make choices…

  37. rob5000 says:

    This isn’t actually as revolutionary as it appears, as its components are already well-established practices in American education.

    Physical education is a requirement in secondary education – Lincoln is merely extending it across to college-level.

    Creating basic standards that must be met are obviously these are part of an education. Extra-curricular requirements have been required in the past and these clearly are not strictly ‘academic’.

    And finally, if an incoming students does poorly on placement tests, or lacks certain pre-reqs, the university will require extra classes that the student must take and pay for over.

    This is merely a new mix of old practices.

    • rob5000 says:

      …sorry for the typos.

    • Gabriel Irons says:

      I agree wholeheartedly. Many other colleges I’m familiar with have strange extracurricular requirements, such as a number of hours in community service (this appears to be a favorite among colleges in my area, it sure keeps their streets clean!) or other beneficial but purely extracurricular activities.

      Those criticizing this policy forget that college is meant to be a holistic, all-encompassing approach to education. If Lincoln’s sole purpose was to teach a set of skills, they would be a tech college. Instead, people expect to leave college with a new mindset and a varied group of skills and betterments.

      A college cannot, in good conscience, teach students academic truths and leave them physically languishing. How many businesses would like to hire a business manager who looks like he’ll die from cardiac arrest at the age of 35?

      This policy is not discrimination, it’s an attempt to ensure that college does not allow its students to leave without becoming healthier, better people.

      • steve says:

        It’s a stretch to associate ‘healthy’ with ‘better’. You should think hard about what you are saying.

      • rob5000 says:

        Steve – are you seriously saying to be less healthy is better or the same? Most people here on planet earth consider being healthy being better then not.

      • steve says:

        More like-it is not your or anyone’s place to say who is a ‘better’ or ‘worse’ person dependent upon any particular physical attribute or state of percieved healthiness. In fact, it is not really anyone’s business besides the individual in question. There are a variety of outlooks, attitudes, and priorities that are perfectly reasonable, fair, and totally-not-your-problem that could lead to an individual not being in what you consider ideal condition. Not everyone shares the same purposes or priorities. It is their life, their body, their problem.

        Argh people’s fitness choices are so not-anyone-else’s-problem that they are barely fit for public discussion, what am I doing here…

      • rob5000 says:

        This is faulty example of relativism. A physical state that leads to health issues and early death can not be viewed as equal or better than the alternative. As I mentioned earlier, your freedom to make poor decisions does not mean I can’t call you out for it.

        And as far as the uni’s right to interfere, pls see my comments above. You sign up, you’re on the bus.

        Even outside Lincoln, if some form of universal health care does pass, we are all now our brother’s keeper. If you make bad decisions, I write a bigger check – it’s now my business to keep you out of the doctor’s office.

      • steve says:

        My relativism is so not faulty:P If the satisfaction gained from a ‘bad’ activity, that may have led to the poor physical condition, is more important to someone than the possible satisfaction of possibly living longer, then the activity was worth the cost, to them. People do not exist to improve public health stats.

        I would say that the university’s job is educating people rather than making ‘better’ people but of course the students can leave if they don’t like it.

        You are dead on about universal healthcare though. Welcome to the world where you pay tax penalties over what someone else considers unhealthy activity. Now every time some study finds that X activity shows some fraction percent increase/decrease in heart disease in lab rats, the government is going to carrot/stick you into doing/not doing it. It’s like the 3rd or 4th worst idea ever.

      • brilliantmindbrokenbody says:

        It would be one thing to have a requirement for all students to take a health and fitness course.

        It is another entirely to make one subset of students, based solely on a physical trait, take them. Particularly if it’s done using an absurdly bad measure that was never intended to show health, fitness, or even size of body. Body builders and athletes often have very high BMIs because of how much muscle weighs. According to BMI standards, Quarterbacks Tom Brady and Drew Brees are overweight, and ‘The Rock’ Dwayne Johnson is obese.

        Not to mention, of course, that BMI isn’t a good indicator of behavior. To quote a study from last year, “researchers found that people with “healthier” BMI values were no more likely to be physically active than those with higher, “unhealthier” values. Unexpectedly, it was the latter who were more likely to eat a healthier diet.”


  38. Flower Boy says:

    why is a place of study & research getting involved in peoples health and fitness? I don’t get it. Though I do agree, generally if your BMI is 30+ then odds on you are very overweight. But still, what’s the connection?

  39. A long time ago a question asked was “How did you get so fat?” And the answer is “How did you get so stupid?”

  40. Sherrie says:

    I was a professional nurse for 30-40 years. There are many medical reasons — including a healthy high normal — that a person may have a high BMI, but I do not believe it is the right of any state or federally funded college or university to treat people any differently as long as they have earned their diploma scholastically. High school children are expected to take physical education, but college students are usually the age of majority and do not require “parenting” from the schools they pay to attend. What is Lincoln University going to require for a diploma next? Will there be height requirements? Age requirements? Physical perfection requirements acording to some stuffy academic’s ideas of beauty? (Possibly it’s just a way of making more money and keeping their phy ed instructors employed.) What ever happened to the idea of “reaching out” to people with physical problems? One of the greatest present-day physicists in the world was born with cerebral palsy and severe handicaps. I don’t know what his BMI is, but he might not have been accepted to begin with. It’s just as well. It sounds as if his education would have been rather inferior.

    • rob5000 says:

      Being to short doesn’t kill you early, and even if it did, there’s not a lot you can do about it. Nor does having less-then-perfect cheekbones. We’re not talking about physical perfection, we’re talking about getting people out of a very dangerous physical state. This is a health question, not a vanity issue.

      As Gabriel pointed out above, a university education has always been more then just imparting a set of skills. It’s never been anything but about forging the “whole person”. That’s the difference between university and a tech college. A uni degree is much more than just the ability to write coherently or to solve a logarithmic equation.

      And what is the risk here compared to the reward? As a nurse, I’m sure you’ve met people who have beat their obesity. How do they feel about it? And what about the patients you’ve seen who are obese and come in for treatment, especially when they’re into middle age? Can you honestly say they are in no worse a position than if they weren’t obese? Would their lives have been different if they weren’t obese? Even, dare I suggest, better?

      By placing weight loss between a student and their degree you create a perfect incentive to drop all excuses and achieve at least a base level of health. We’re not saying you must look like a Greek mythological figure, just out of the danger zone. For those exceptional cases where BMI belies good health (as in high muscle mass) or the very rare case where obesity is primarily caused by something beyond the student’s control, the school can look at the individual case and make an exception, if necessary.

      But one has to assume the majority of cases where BMI is over 30 are the result of a lifestyle that will most likely lead to health problems and quite possibly an early death.

      PS – Hawkins would very likely give his eye-teeth to be able to walk and talk normally, (and I would think he certainly would take an extra class and spend a few hours a week to regain that which illness has stripped from him). I’m sure if Cambridge had physical requirements, and he were able to meet them, he would have been overjoyed to fulfill them.

  41. SexyPolitico says:

    I would have to ask who came up with this policy and why, because if this is for the health of the student body then this nutrition class should be required for all students, or some sort of athletics should be required for all students. I just don’t see how there isn’t some form of discrimintation if only a select group of students is required to take this class.

  42. BadWitch says:

    Guidelines are meant just as that. You have to start somewhere (an averaging). It mostly works. As a person who eats what she wants, with a fast metabolism all her life – I can tell you for a fact that BMI DOES have bearing in reality when I train for any sport, it drops way down despite that I really don’t change my eating habits. It IS a good guideline, once again. HEALTH & WELLNESS first.

    • brilliantmindbrokenbody says:

      Your BMI only drops because your weight drops.

      If you were to increase your muscle mass beyond an equal weight to the fat you lost, you would find your weight – and BMI – went up even though you were fitter and stronger.

  43. Steve says:

    i dont see that being a problem we all need to get in better shape especially our kids. I mean from the outside it might seem mean but i think it’s a good start in the right direction. There are alot of over weight kids, it’s one thing to be overwight as an adult but as a child it shouldnt become a regular thing just my opinion.

  44. Aubrey says:

    That is so ridiculous. Someone always has to do something to make another dollar, and put someone down to feel better about themselves. By the way I didn’t know they had grade schoolers running colleges now-a-days.

  45. nerdyjen says:

    I took a look at the policy for myself and found that the class is required for all students, but a BMI below 30 qualifies as “testing out.” I don’t believe that the BMI should preclude someone from a physical fitness class. I am an overweight woman, but can outrun, walk and lift even some men. If the program is required for all, fine, but allowing them college credit for being thin is ridiculous.
    My sister is so thin she looks anorexic, yet eats 3 times as much as me without exercising. I walk or bike everywhere and eat extremely healthy, yet still am overweight. I honestly feel that the knowledge of a health class would be great for everyone and should not just be inflicted upon the fat students.
    Another thing, everyone keeps referring to the school as a private institution; it isn’t. It is a state run school that receives federal funding, thus subject to increased scrutiny.

  46. What’s up?. Thanks a bunch for the info. I’ve been digging around looking some info up for shool, but there is so much out there. Google lead me here – good for you i suppose! Keep up the good work. I will be coming back in a few days to see if there is any more info.

  47. Have you got any suggestions for someone that may be a little over weight but wants to lift weights as well?

  48. this is a good blog. will come back regularly to read more article

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