According to the American College Health Association, 30 percent of college students are obese or overweight. It's no wonder this percentage is so high: For many, the college lifestyle revolves around all-you-can-eat dining halls, partying, and snacking at all hours of the day. There's a reason it's called the "Freshman 15."
So how are colleges trying to help?
By posting nutrition and calorie information in residential dining halls in an effort to help students make smart food choices. But this could be making the situation even worse.
Experts who study adolescents believe that focusing solely on calorie counts might provoke disordered eating among students—including drastic weight loss, caloric restriction, binging, purging, eating too much, and eating too little.
They believe there are other ways that schools can help college students avoid unhealthy weight gain including:
- Provide opportunities for healthy physical activity like walking trails through campus or social clubs focused on physical activity.
- Make more healthy options available in dining halls.
- Encourage students to eat together (versus alone when they are more apt to make unhealthy choices).
- Emphasize portion size over calorie counts.
What do you think? Is focusing on calorie counts oversimplifying nutrition? How do you think schools should combat unhealthy weight gain?