Fat-asses rampant on campus

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Bicyclist riding away from a man that looks like Bruce Willis

Lulu Wei

TIMMY PEDALLED HARDER...BRUCE WILLIS WAS IN HOT PURSUIT. A pair of cyclists took to the bike paths this week. Unlike a bevy of obese university students, these dudes chose to get off their asses. Kudos.

University students’ lifestyle " hours studying, snacking, and drinking " is increasing their risk of obesity and other health problems, according to a recent University of New Hampshire study.

Of 800 American college students, the study found 66 per cent of male students and 50 per cent of female students have at least one symptom of metabolic syndrome.

Symptoms range from high blood pressure to excessive stomach fat and increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. They are also red flags for high blood pressure and cholesterol.

“Students head off to university, they get busy studying and stop doing the sports they did in high school, they start drinking, they eat junk food, [and] they don’t take time to cook healthy meals,” Dr. J. David Spence, professor of neurology and clinical pharmacology at Western, said.

According to Spence, there is no “magic” secret to losing weight " just healthy eating.

“Normal people burn about 10 calories per pound, so if you weigh 150 pounds you’ve been eating 1500 calories per day,” he said. “[To lose weight] you’d have to permanently reduce your calorie intake…it’s that simple.”

Spence recommended students reduce their intake of sugar, calories, and fat and read labels to figure out how many calories they are consuming.

He noted “calorie bombs” " snacks like cake and ice cream, and less obvious choices such as meat and nuts " should be avoided if students want to lose weight. Spence added unhealthy trans-fats should be off-limits.

“Get the meat down to a piece every other day the size of the palm in your hand, avoid calorie bombs " [for example,] eat healthy popcorn instead of potato chips " [and] control carbs,” he recommended.

Dr. Jennifer Irwin, assistant professor in the health sciences program at Western, said the easiest thing students can do is increase their physical activity.

She recommended at least 30 minutes of moderate activity as part of a daily routine.

Second-year international relations student Nick Wong became frustrated with the unhealthy habits he developed in his first year at Western.

“University comes along, and I drink too much beer, sleep too much and don’t exercise enough,” Wong said.

Wong decided to begin a fitness regimen, and soon noted several benefits to working out regularly.

“[I wasn’t] tired at all, I had morning classes that I couldn’t handle until I started working out. I had more energy, and I might have been more intelligent, if not at least attentive,” Wong said.

Spence said exercise is most beneficial in conjunction with proper eating habits.

“You only burn 100 calories running a six minute mile…that’s four crackers. It’s much easier to not eat the crackers in the first place,” Spence said.

Students don’t need to starve themselves, however.

“What works is learning how to make [low-calorie food] tasty and enjoyable instead of just not eating anything,” Spence said.

“Moderation is the key word. Eating in moderation, drinking in moderation, and getting moderate exercise,” Irwin said.

“Seems people these days are looking for the magic bullet to weight loss,” Wong said.

“Atkins, South Beach, drugs. But the only way to lose healthy weight is hard work and exercise.”

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