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November 23rd, 2009
09:05 AM ET

Mandatory Fitness Class

Since 2006, students at Lincoln University near Philadelphia have been required to take a class called "Fitness for Life" to graduate. The catch: not all students have to take the class. If a student's Body Mass Index (BMI) is below 30, he or she is exempt. (A normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9) But for students whose BMI is over 30, the class is mandatory. It meets 3 hours a week and involves physical activity as well as information on nutrition, stress, and sleep. University officials say they're being proactive and addressing the issue of obesity head-on. But some students say its discrimination based on weight.

What do you think?

Is it fair for this university to require students with high BMIs to take a fitness course?

Post your comments here, and Heidi will read some of them in the Newsroom, from 9-11am ET.

Filed under: Anchors • Heidi Collins
soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. Linda

    Who died and made this University King of BMI. Ridiculous!

    November 23, 2009 at 9:20 am |
  2. Michael

    I think that is fine as long as any teacher that is overweight is fired no matter how long he or she has been there. They (the teachers)should be given 6 months to lose the weight. Let's do that.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:20 am |
  3. robert slaughter

    heidi, i think it's ridiculous the university is doing this.are not the students paying to go there to learn an education? to say you won't be able to graduate if your too fat has nothing to do with what the students are spending there money on. if the university goes thru with this watch the lawsuits begin...

    November 23, 2009 at 9:20 am |
  4. Taoheart

    I think it is justified to require a "fitness for life" grade to graduate but not based on the "BMI" scale, if that is the case most of the football team would not graduate

    November 23, 2009 at 9:20 am |
  5. Kevin Clawson

    Of course it's okay. There are mandatory requirements for math, arts, languages, etc. at most colleges, which can be bypassed with a proficiency test. Why not for physical fitness? If one cannot show "proficiency", one should be required to take the course.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:20 am |
  6. chaim v.

    Yes. They should require the fitness class. This sgould be done throughout the US. It will help change america into a healthier country.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:21 am |
  7. christopher bovee

    when i first enrolled in college physical education was a mandatory part of the curriculum; i took intermediate swimming and weight training for instance. i don't think anyone should be singled out, but i do think mandatory P.E. is a very smart idea.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:21 am |
  8. Melissa R.

    If the school wants to impose that requirement they should make that their policy to new incoming students. That way, it is up to the student to decide if they want to accept that policy or not before they attend that school. The mandate should not be imposed on students who are already attending. That would be the only fair thing to do.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:21 am |
  9. Heather Havey

    I believe that requiring a course in fitness and wellness is an excellent idea. It will provide a basic education in body care. My opinion is that a course in nutrition and eating well should also be required to graduate. People's lack of nutrition knowledge in our society is shocking. At the very least, nutrition information should be incorporated into the one required course.

    I do not believe that students should meet certain body size requirements in order to graduate, however.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:22 am |
  10. Catalina

    Absolutely!!! BTW it should be required earlier in life, probably middle school or so. Obesity is becoming a real issue and it's time to intervene and help our kids to grow up healthy

    November 23, 2009 at 9:22 am |
  11. Matt

    The fitness requirement should be applied to every student at the University equally not just those with a high BMI. Worcester Polytechnic Institute, a premier engineering school in Massachusetts, requires all students to have taken 4 fitness courses in order to graduate. It isn't a difficult requirement and it only helps students develop a culture of healthly living which is severely lacking in our society.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:22 am |
  12. Elaine

    My experience from the military lets me know this may be some kind of prejudice cause everybodies body type is not the same some of us gain weigh just because we smell good food. This person should not have the right to do this people pay thousands of dollars to get an education and thats what they should get not a fittness trainer that is extra money.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:22 am |
  13. blurey

    education teaches young adults how to navigate through life, their ability to manage their weight is a reflection on how they will succeed in real life.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:22 am |
  14. John Henschen

    Coming from someone with a high BMI, I think the school should be able to require this provided they inform the student of their policy before they enroll. Then, if the student doesn't like it...*shrug* hey, there are a LOT of schools out there.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:23 am |
  15. Earnie

    Yes if they do a major policy change to enhance that type of curriculum to assist everyone equally. But they need to enforce it only with new incoming students who agree before attending.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:23 am |
  16. David O.

    I don't think that it is right to impose such a requirement on people who have already started their education at Lincoln. If they want to make that a requirement for incoming freshman that's fine. Maybe when their enrollment drops to almost nothing they will realize how stupid an idea it really is. I'm not against being fit; I'm against trying to take away people's free will (which is effectively what you're doing for those people who aren't willing to throw away the money they spent for the first 3 years of their education).

    November 23, 2009 at 9:23 am |
  17. Francesca

    I belive that concern for health is a good thing. However, having spent 10 years in college and earned two masters degrees, I object that this is discrimination, very blatantly.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:23 am |
  18. Shane

    BMI may be a good thing to look at for physical fitness, but if they want to emphasize physical fitness a standardized fitness test would be a good thing to have as a graduation requirement. I go to a military academy, so I may be a bit bias in my approach.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:23 am |
  19. Andrew

    I agree and I'm overweight too. I could see the benefit in bringing it to the attention of a student by requiring them to take a fitness course if they are obese. It's time we got our nation healthy so we can compete in this world.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:23 am |
  20. Heather Havey

    (If students are severely overweight, they can still take the course but care for themselves and their own healthy limits during that course. It should accommodate people at all stages of fitness or wellness).

    November 23, 2009 at 9:23 am |
  21. Neema

    I though most universities require some form of physical education course before students can graduate. Obesity is an epidemic, and at the least these students should have to take a course on nutrition and health so they can be educated on their "problem".

    Something has to be done about this problem. It leads to so many problems, that fixing this issue nationally could/would help lower national medical expenses!

    November 23, 2009 at 9:24 am |
  22. Eugene

    It is certainly unfair for this university to require students with high BMI's to take a fitness course, especially if they were not aware of this requirement prior to enrollment. Why not do blood alcohol testing prior to graduation day and put half the class in rehab before issuing a diploma, this is rediculous and should be stopped immediately!!

    November 23, 2009 at 9:24 am |
  23. Heather Havey

    I attended Georgia Tech, at which every student was required to take such a course. I agree with other comments that this would be a fair approach. Every student should be required to take the course.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:24 am |
  24. Charles Munson

    Heck YES – despite what the honor student thinks, learning what is healthy IS part of a well-rounded education. I wish someone that exposed that to me at that age. Teaching life skills is as important as teaching core academics – and our institutions don't do enough of the former. Indeed, this concept should be done at the secondary level of education (high school) as well. The only problem with the program is the restriction on BMI – the class should be for all students since one cannot know what the future may be for those that are currently exempt.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:25 am |
  25. Catherine Berryhill

    Hello! I think it is discrimination. And it is dumb. People ought to mind their own business. Stop telling everybody what to do. And no I am not fat. But, I could be. I hope God forbid that this principal never gets fat. But he might. So there!

    November 23, 2009 at 9:25 am |
  26. ckelly

    This is a terrible thing to do to students. What next ? You can't get a bank loan if you don't lose weight? Gym memberships do not equal weight loss or health lifestyle. What about "normal weight students" who eat badly, smoke pot or drink in excess-or is this just a "visible minority" fat students are visible and in the minority-and are often ethnic minorities...

    Get your moral values and personal preferences out of my education!!This is a form of discrimination and a violation of human rights!

    November 23, 2009 at 9:25 am |
  27. Sebastian, NYC

    They should add a fitness and nutrition class to the core curriculum that all students have to take, and have the students set goals one-on-one with the professor on the first day that their grade will be based on at the end of the semester. But we have to do something, Americans are expanding at an exponential rate.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:25 am |
  28. Reed

    Heidi, I think the idea behind the mandatory fitness class is good but will not be effective unless those who are required to take the class want to improve their fitness level. School is for education, especially when you have to pay for it, so you could definitely look at it as being an illegitimate requirement. By the way, you look great today!

    November 23, 2009 at 9:26 am |
  29. Dave Bain

    A WAIST IS A TERRIBLE THING TO MIND - forgive for that 🙂
    but the heavy handed imposition of fitness as a graduation requirement is over the top and contrary to best practices in motivational psychology. Perhaps having fitness level be part of the grade in a required fitness course would not be beyond the pale.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:26 am |
  30. Scott

    I think it should go one step farther...required fitness classes for grade school and high school kids as well. To much childhood obesity and inactive children sitting in front of the tv.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:27 am |
  31. yolanda

    Heidi, don't you think this "weight concern" initiative is some 21 years too late? If the school really thinks it's helping individuals manage their future health, then they need to reach out to new parents and elementary schools and share their so-call concern for un-healthy weight conditions. They should be required to post the weight and "fat-index" for all its professors and board members! Over-weight profs can then agree to freeze salary increases/bonuses.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:27 am |
  32. Amanda

    It's really dissappointing to hear that people are speaking out against a schools attempt at encouraging a healthier future. While it may be a bit of an ego crush to have your school tell you that you are overweight, in the end, it is not a benifit for them, it is a benefit for you. Isn't the number one cause of diet and excersize failure – the lack of committment from the participant? I think a graduation requirement is exactly what is needed. Bravo to the school, for trying to make the world a healthier and happier place.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:29 am |
  33. SHAY

    For existing students this would not be so fair cause at this point it could be an embarrassing thing to be forced to go to "fat class" to graduate. Also, they may not have the home training nor restraint to maintain the diet needed to reach the weight goal by the deadline, so now for a senior or sophmore you have added more graduation stress. For new coming students it is fair because they know this information coming in and can make an informed decision on whether they want ot be involved and it may be a more positive experience for them. A freshman would have more time to reach the goal by the time they graduate. There should definitely be some exceptions for existing students.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:29 am |
  34. sergio corvil

    The fitness class is no different than any other classes that students are REQUIRED to take. It is a requirement that was communicated to the students in advance and if they had an issue with it, then they should have applied to a different school.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:29 am |
  35. Beth

    This policy is unfair for those overweight students who began their education before it was put in place. They signed up to get an education, not to be embarrassed by school officials forcing them to be the biggest losers. There are other ways to encourage students to "get healthy". This isn't one of them. Bad call, y'all.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:29 am |
  36. Megan

    The purpose of college is to give students the necessary tools and skills to lead a succesful life, and I believe fitness is a major aspect of success. With the growing rate of obesity in America, and all the illnesses associated with obesity, I think it is necessary that colleges require obese students to take fitness classes. I think it is a very good idea and obese students may be upset but will thank Lincoln University later.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:29 am |
  37. rene

    I think it is wonderful that a school would care not only about a students education but their health,but a diploma should be given based on your G.P.A. not your B.M.I. You can only encourage students and hope that they take advantage of the health advice, but punishing them because they cannot lose weight is destructive to a students confidence that they can achieve a better B.M.I. with regular exercise, and if for some reason they have cannot lose the weight , give them the facts,speak with their parents and support them through their struggle.For some people losing weight is not just as simple as exercise and diet.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:29 am |
  38. angela

    i believe, that while this program may not seem fair, that is besides the point. it is a great, proactive way to promote healthy lifestyles in americans. for too long we have lived lives with lack of discipline as far as food is concerned. this is a program that should be started in elementary schools, to educate everyone at an early age. sometimes parents aren't even educated in nutrition and pass that on to their children. not to mention that most fattening or unhealthy foods are the cheapest and easiest to buy. making unhealthy foods a staple in most lower income households. people need to be taught that healthy food is affordable as well. something that is not really ever advertised, even when encouraging people to eat heatlhier and have a healthier lifestyle.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:29 am |
  39. B Lee


    I think that Lincoln is exemplifying a great concern for the greater community by trying to encourage a healthy lifestyle for quality living! I think that this correlates to common physical fitness requirements by the University, as well as others across the country. In addition, this shows that the university is trying to apply the fitness education enduring understandings. I think that this may be abrupt for the general milleu, who is not accustom to being told how to handle body wieght! Generally, this is a perrogative that has no regulation, unless the individual is willing to submit to health concerns, needs, or wants that will benefit self, which is indicative of motivation! I hope that their is a higher education consensus, that the concern for the healthier living is necessary; however, I believe they need to regulate accordingly!

    November 23, 2009 at 9:29 am |
  40. B Lee


    I think that Lincoln is exemplifying a great concern for the greater community by trying to encourage a healthy lifestyle for quality living! I think that this correlates to common physical fitness requirements by the University, as well as others across the country. In addition, this shows that the university is trying to apply the fitness education enduring understandings. I think that this may be abrupt for the general millieu, who is not accustomed to being told how to handle body wieght! Generally, this is a perrogative that has no regulation, unless the individual is willing to submit to health concerns, needs, or wants that will benefit self, which is indicative of motivation! I hope that there is a higher education consensus, that the concern for the healthier living is necessary; however, I believe they need to regulate accordingly!

    November 23, 2009 at 9:31 am |
  41. Bill Nelson

    Their intentions may be honorable but they are misplaced. If a person spends a fortune and four + years getting an education I am sure they are intelligent enough to realize that they are obese.

    People who are overweight are not that way because they want to be.
    Sometimes eating disorders are controllable but many times they are not. Some people are obese due to heredity and others due to illiness.

    What right do the administrators have in dictating what is an acceptable weight ?
    The students are not in the military; are they?
    I am willing to bet that the ones who made these rules are skinny and/or the mr. & mrs physical fitness type. They are the type of people who say that it is easy to lose weight.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:31 am |
  42. Mat

    Lets be real, America is FAT! Lincoln is setting a benchmark for the future. Grade schools, high schools, colleges and universities should ALL have some kind of similar program. I don't think everyone should have to attend either. That would be like sending someone who doesn't drink to mandatory AA meetings...what good does that do other than protect the ego of the offender? Its time the pendulum swings in the other direction and we stop the generalizations and grouping of people together unnecessarily for the sake of political correctness!

    November 23, 2009 at 9:31 am |
  43. J.P

    I don't think it is fair. But I do like the fact that Lincoln take students' health their consideration.

    Getting fit comes from self-motivation. Maybe they should have consulting session or class not as a mandatory with in house advertising.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:32 am |
  44. Reverend Dr Irene Goldberg, Wilmington DE

    Dear Heidi. I agree with Lincoln College and wish all colleges and universities will follow this lead and require fitness to graduate. Learning the effects of obesity and a high BMI makes students aware and thus responsible for their health. This learning lasts a lifetime and can affect so many areas of a persons life socially, physically and mentally. With love and blessings.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:32 am |
  45. Stephen

    I don't think that this requirement is biased but it is a little insensitive. The course should be a requirement but not to graduate; in this age of processed/fast foods, folks need to know the adverse affect it can have on the body over a period of time. There will be students who will have health issues that will result in weight gain; each case should be evaluated with care.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:33 am |
  46. Don Farrow

    Heidi, I tghink it's wrong for the school dropped this fitness thing on those about to graduate, but I do feel it's important that ALL colleges have mandatory gym classes for which a letter grade is given (affecting the total grade average). A waver for veterans and disabled would be acceptable. An unfit graduate is a medical cost on society.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:36 am |
  47. ckelly

    @ BLee

    As a person who has struggled with weight my entire life and who has maintained an 80lb weight loss for 15 years-I believe this is the wrong approach to helping the "greater community". I grew up active, with thin parents, family and friends but was always slightly overweight-this is pre: video whole life was about trying to get fit, attend weight watchers and seeing a dietition...I was the one in 100 back as a kid and adolescent.The stress I placed on myself to lose weight-made me fatter...

    It was only after a terrible battle with lots of support and an increase in muscle mass that I lost the weight-I am still bigger than the average 5'2 women but maintained my weight loss.

    The medical community needs to do more to assist people with weight loss-As a Canadian who is well educated and living in Vancouver-I know how to lose weight-my body fights it all the way-its not just a lifestyle issue..

    if it was as simple as "going to the gym" or getting off the couch-this would not be a national-international problem-at some point the food industry has to be held accountable.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:38 am |
  48. Linda Johnson

    Preventive weight and whole-Health-Wellness starts with the parent(s) at home at birth. Living and learning life should be refreshed in kindergarten, first grade up to fifth grade. It should continue in middle school, high school and more advanced studies, information and execution as a freshman in college and a senior ready to graduate. A nutritionist and effective gym teacher in our public and private schools should be mandatory students. Teaching children early about certified organic produce, health meats, fish and the true benefits of drinking fresh spring water. Much focus should be on dark green veggies and the cycle of changes that happens in our bodies in the stages of life: teens, young adulthood, midlife, and Senior Citizens. The benefits of a whole healthy life depends on information and application during our whole entire life. Walking is essential if money is an issue. The ground work of my new emporium is structured around THE LION OF JUDAH CANDLE EDIFICE will consist of healthy natural whole shops and activities for a long and healthy life. My hope is to build a place of fine exquisite style of the natural. Meaning Toothpaste, certified organic gardening, natural beauty hair salon with fine natural products, soaps and extreme marketing techniques to incorporate every high school junior and senior, college students to earn extra funds to help with college tuition and expenses. The plans are unique and your news coverage this morning confirmed and validated what God whispered into my ear on June 24, 2009. I walk every morning and I include Lacinto Kale in my salad from Central Market on Lovers Lane and NewFlower on Henderson. A business dream I hope to build to help.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:38 am |
  49. Francesca


    what does moderation mean? My BMI is way below the recommended level. Why should I not be required to submit to the same requirements?

    November 23, 2009 at 9:39 am |
  50. Linda Johnson

    Don't hit the senior that is on target to graduate, start with the freshman. The effective date is the issue. A fair chance should be granted. It takes time to break bad habits and breakdown stubborn fat. Life is a process and loosing weight is a process and it can be done with established discipline.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:41 am |
  51. Ray Ramsey

    I am really disappointed to hear that. I understand that it should some motivation to be in shape but I never thought it will be to that extend. I guess we should not be surprised they don’t accept kids in kinder garden because of there weight or their sex at some point. What kind of message are we sending to our kids? I also was wondering if there is any kick back from the GYM’s in where Lincoln University will benefit from.
    I guess the next one will be no diploma = no play for any league.
    This is ridiculous guys.


    November 23, 2009 at 9:42 am |
  52. Rob

    Hello...... For many people who fall into this category, this is a wake up call. This is EDUCATION that could possibly get them healthier or even save their life. There is something wrong with this????

    November 23, 2009 at 9:42 am |
  53. Rev. Dr. Irene Goldberg

    Dearest Heidi, Bravo for Lincoln College for requiring students to be fit before they receive their diplomas. I wish all colleges and universities will follow suit. The education around fitness, obesity and BMI can be a life saving learning. Being fit requires knowledge of nutrition, exercise, and one's own capacity to honor our vessel for life, our bodies. I wouldn't consider traveling in an unfit airplane or car.

    Learning this in college sets up a society of health, wealth and prosperity ... like the saying goes, without our health, wealth means nothing. It's about time we got back to schools to teach the power of fitness, of body, mind and spirit.

    Thanks for listening. Love Light & Grace, Dr. Irene

    November 23, 2009 at 9:43 am |
  54. ckelly

    90 % of the posters on this board have never had a serious weight problem!!! This is very clear.-I think weight is a this is a decision between doctor and patient and I agree with Linda Johnson who wrote an intelligent, informed post-health education is a life long process and requires a lifelong support system-from the community!!!

    The mental health of College students is a far greater concern with recent studies finding 25% of students with some sort of personality disorder-lets focus on the health of the whole student and not a scape-goat issue "weight!!!"

    November 23, 2009 at 9:51 am |
  55. don andrews

    if we had a requirement like that to get licensure or aide in Indiana we would be in big trouble....more turkey less gravy please.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:04 am |
  56. Nicholas Jackson

    I fully support the University.
    First I'd like to say the main concern should be if this requirement is made known prior to registration. If so then EVER student has already accepted these terms and later on should not complain or feel discriminated against.

    I feel that this establishment is working towards the best interest of it's pupils. No different then the mandatory physical education classes high school students across the country are required to take. We should be applauding this University for understand the importance of living a physically healthy life instead of debating if it's discriminatory.

    Yes this does discriminate. But for lack of a better analogy, the University also discriminates against those who can not afford the education provided or for example those who can't read or write. My point being, no one is forced to attend this school. If you then choose to apply and accept enrollment you are accepting this challenge. A challenge that only has your best interest in mind.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:14 am |
  57. ckelly

    One's weight or BMI does not indicate ones level of health or habits. Make this a requirement for ALL students not just the visible minority-Education is a good thing-teaching prejudice, bad science or discrimination is not!

    Weight management, nutrition and fitness should be part of a greater health program that also considers addictions, mental health and eating disorders (how many college bulimics are there in your school) who happen to be of normal weight now? How many College boys are thin but have artery disease? Do you care?

    November 23, 2009 at 10:19 am |
  58. Catherine Berryhill

    I was wondering if the schools will give back the money! Suppose if you are slim when paying tuiition, and later gain weight. Will your money be refinded? If not, then it is stealing.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:22 am |
  59. whitney

    I think it's an important step in the direction of dealing with the problem of obesity in America. With 60% of our nation overweight, 30% obese, and the numbers on the rise, I think it's safe to say that education about living a healthy lifestyle is desperately needed by some people.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:24 am |
  60. Emily Sanchez

    by all means, make the class mandatory for graduation... but for ALL students or no one. Just because someone has been blessed with good genes doesn't mean they don't need the information on nutrition and health. If they are truly concerned with the health of their students everyone should take the course.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:29 am |
  61. jamie bryant

    in a time when morbid obesity is ripping our entire country apart from the inside out, it honestly blows my mind that people would sooner make an excuse to get out of a fitness class than to get themselves in shape. the problem isn't with the school making it mandatory to get in shape, the problem lies in the laziness of its' students.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:29 am |
  62. Dan

    It is fair to require students to take a fitness course to graduate. However, it is not fair to base the requirement on BMI. All students should be required to take the class regardless of BMI.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:30 am |
  63. Bob in Texas

    Is it ever "fair" to impose conditions retroactively. The University has a contract with the students that states if they meet the requirements in effect at the time of enrollment they will be given a diploma. To impose conditions that were not disclosed when the contract was made is grossly unfair and sends the wrong message to our future business leaders. Yes Heidi, it is a moral issue.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:31 am |
  64. Doug Milliken

    Making this fitness class a mandatory requirement for ALL students is the only acceptable solution. Why not make fashion classes mandatory for tacky dressers? Or perhaps a theater class on makeup application for all ugly female students? Or a class on how to eat at chinese buffets for all skinny students-I think I like that idea...This is a VERY slippery slope here, but it's to be expected in this culture where fat people are looked down upon as a rule.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:32 am |
  65. Sandra Sims

    All students at the university (a large public school) I attended had to have 2 semesters of PE to graduate. Seemed like that was the norm at other schools at the time and that was not that long ago ('97 grad).

    Just make the requirement mandatory for all students then there is no discrimination issue.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:32 am |
  66. Jenni

    My college required all students take a fitness course as a requirement to graduate. At a time in life when young adults are without structure for the first time, I think it's a great idea to require they be active in an organized way. My college allowed students to take a huge variety of courses, from more traditional activities such as swimming, weight training and skiing to activities such as a ropes course or badminton, so students could choose activities that interested them to complete the fitness requirement.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:32 am |
  67. carol

    In the state of Georgia it is manatory for all college students to take a PE fitness class. Part of the general ed. This has been in effect for a number of years.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:33 am |
  68. Liberty_man

    No.. i don't think tuition hikes are an answer. I think the colleges need to end the addiction to government subsidies and grants and start doing what's best for their communities. Perhaps sponsoring some community gardens or home repair projects for the parents of the students in the communities. Things like that which could be productive as well as good exercise. Gather community support and perhaps build a charter school for the trades. I have a trade acedemy near me that is excellent in teaching people how to build their own homes. In my opinion.. that's a bonus too. maybe offer more building and contracting courses at the college. Business management courses. That kind of stuff.. but then sponsor an outreach to the trades. JMHO though.. i think they can better keep people healthy by student chapters of non profits. Don't they even have those anymore? I would think task them with the health of the community and you could lower tuition costs for them. Not the other way around.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:34 am |
  69. Brian

    The purpose of the class shouldn't be about loosing weight it should be about learning about how to work out. Life skills like working out, cooking and cleaning, and personal finances should be taught to all children. If these skills are not learned at home... or if they can learn better skills in a more disciplined setting that is even better.

    Do you find it ironic that your next news segment is about hunger in the fattest country in the world? I wish you would dig deeper and show how obesity and hunger are related to poverty and culture.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:34 am |
  70. Bill O'Brien

    Please stop refering to your female coworkers as GUYS not GALS.Sounds stupid but just reverse it have male workers refer to themselves as GALS.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:34 am |
  71. Nicole

    I am faculty at a public community college in California and we require each student to complete TWO physical education courses prior to graduation. I think that Lincoln should impose this requirement on every student who wishes to receive a degree from their college. Learning how to live a fit and healthy lifestyle is something that even those who are naturally thin can benefit from. To only require this course for those students who are obese is somewhat discriminatory.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:34 am |
  72. Mike from orlando,fl

    I agree with the college, let the truth be told, african americans should take better care of themselves. Being afrian american retired police officer, I have seen too may times the damage of being obese can do, especialy in african american weomen. I wish my college would have had this program back in 1987. thks mike from orlando.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:35 am |
  73. Ro Fisk

    It's a wonderful way to give knowledge about health, obesity, exercise and provide gym equipt to students. My college required us to have physical ed. for at least two years, and to be able to swim 1/2 mile. I struggled to meet the swim requirement, but mastered it and felt good about my new skill! (Later my college required everyone to have a second language before graduation, long before many others joined that trend.) To get a college education means, to me, to become a little better backgrounded in life, and that's a great addition to one's life and future.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:35 am |
  74. Julianna Green

    I beileve it is a good thing to have in school but it should be started while they are in the young grades not when they are ready to graduate , they habits have already formed by then and if they have health problems like my granddaughter who is 16 who has PCOS and Diabetes exercise is very importain and the weight problem is part of the heath problem and exercise helps but not just in high school or college but as young children on in the home also ..It has to be instilled in them not do this or else you don't graduate ..Teach them to make it a part of their life like healthy living and eating ..It should be taught to them not thrown at them..I have had to teach a 15 year old in a year how to change her whole diet because of PCOS and Diabetes cause of a doctor didn't catch it when she was 7 years old...Now it is hard for her...
    Thank you

    Julianna Green

    November 23, 2009 at 10:36 am |
  75. Larry B.

    One for all and all for one...Don't just target one race when obesity is evident in all. I understand the concept and the intent, but don't make it a requirement to graduate. These are young adults we are speaking of and their health is their responsibility.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:36 am |
  76. Amanda

    Everybody is different when it comes to health and weight. There are some whose BMI is low, however they have no clue how to take care of their bodies yet there are individuals who are overweight yet choose to be overweight. I believe there needs to be mandatory health classes to educate people on healthy living no matter what your BMI is. The other side of the argument says that if you choose to attend this University you know going into it that they will require this class and if the individual is obese and doesn't want to be forced to attend the class then don't go to the university.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:36 am |
  77. Kevin Stanley

    Completely agree with the uiversity's program!!!! However, current students should be grandfathered out and not subject to the rule. Other places of higher education take note. Not only graduating more healthy students, but think of the percentage of alumni donations going up in the future do to longer life spans.

    Battle Creek MI

    November 23, 2009 at 10:36 am |
  78. Robert

    I work in the insurance business and have often seen the BMI used against a muscular, fit client with low body fat. I think a better solution for the college would be to require the fitness class for all students. But then, I don't have a PhD like they do ...

    November 23, 2009 at 10:37 am |
  79. J. Sanor

    Sounds like a great idea but the delivery needs a little vamping. Why don't we require our high school students to go thru the basic training course of their choice first.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:37 am |
  80. Dan Fleury

    How does the epidemic of obesity square with the piece on hunger earlier in your show. Are they two distinct populations?

    November 23, 2009 at 10:37 am |
  81. Anthony

    I think the school has the right intentions but needs to find a better way to execute its plan. The standard should not be isolated to students. It should also include all faculty and staff members. If the university is really looking out for the best interest of the students and African-American community, the faculty and staff should lead by example.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:37 am |
  82. Cathy

    It is 100% discrimination based on weight. There are a lot of skinny people that could benefit from a class that teaches nutrition, stress management & the benefits of exercise & good sleep. Just because you are thin does not mean you are healthy & if you are a bit over weight it doesn't mean that you are out of shape. Last time I checked you could not measure blood pressure & cholestrol levels by sight. The class is a great idea- why single out one group & humiliate them. They should make it manditory for all students.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:39 am |
  83. Barb K. R.N.

    A fitness course should be mandatory for all graduates. Part of the problem with medicine is that there is little to no effort to prevent illness and most doctors are not trained in this. This would be a start. To have personally gone through this Fitness for Life program would begin to give doctors the tools to share with others. What patient will follow the advice of his obese doctor( or nurse) who tell him that he needs to lose weight and exercise, but can't or won't do it himself ( or herself)?

    November 23, 2009 at 10:40 am |
  84. Zelma

    I agree with the idea, but teaching good eating habits and integrating physical activity in early childhood is where it would do the most good, so it should begin at the elementary school level.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:41 am |
  85. R.M.M.

    I agree with the idea of having a nutrition/exercise course requirement as part of the undergraduate education. As a medical student, the majority of my case based learning is geared towards treatment of the preventable yet common conditions which stem from poor nutrition and being overweight/obese. The numbers of patients suffering from Type II Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Cardiovascular Disease could be greatly reduced as a result of education in the areas of exercise and nutrition. Although these students are very intelligent and probably realize that they are unhealthy, they may not know exactly what to do or simple changes they can make to greatly improve their health. However, I think everyone should have to take this course regardless of BMI. Students who are of an acceptable BMI currently may run into problems with their weight in later life or the information they learn could be used to help a friend or family member who is struggling to get healthy.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:41 am |
  86. Teresa Montague

    As a U of Maine alumni I am proud to say that acceptance of diversity is primary on their agenda. Because all students face a wide variety of health and fitness issues that course is a core requirement for all students. No one is targeted. No one is left out.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:43 am |
  87. Kathi

    The fitness class is required for everyone to graduate from my State University. The fitness class is also required for anyone who wants to graduate from the Community College in my home town. We call it lifetime fitness here and it is a state requirement from everyone if they want to graduate from a state funded school. Everyone complains about taking it but we still do, because its only one semester and its only one credit hour all around the state. Its not that big of a deal as long as everyone has to take it and not just people with high BMI.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:47 am |
  88. Politically incorrect

    At my school we are already required to take fitness courses. However I do not think it is right to use the BMI which doesn't take into account bone, muscle or organ mass, It is a general inaccurate equation and nothing more. Also it an outrage that we have to pay for something like this that we can do for free at home and that will do nothing for our Majors. As for not allowing someone not to graduate because they do not meet this requirement in discriminatory. As for me I already put in my GYM time in high school with the jock crowd and that should be enough.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:48 am |
  89. dave in des moines

    There are brain research studies that state the brain is most productive between boredom and too much stress. There are other studies that state with exercise, the brain becomes more productive as well. Ever since many primary schools did away with P.E., test scores began its downward trend.
    In order to perform at their peek on the job, employees need to include exercise in their daily routine. Studies have also shown errors on the job also decreases, if they exercise.
    I believe all schools, colleges and primary, should teach the benefits of exercising. This will not only reduce obesity, it will increase productivity and reduce errors on a job after they graduate.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:48 am |
  90. Sharon

    When I began college in 1961 we had required dress codes, quiet hours for study, sign in hours for the dorm, meals served at certain times only and 3 years of pass/fail physical education. No one was exempt from the codes. I had come to school from a city high school with no physical education provisions for women and it was enlightening and empowering to think I could participate in sports. And heaven forbid, it was fun. All the limits and standards prepared me well for life perhaps more than the actual education I received.

    Perhaps it is better that these students learn now, that like it or not, their high BMI will limit their professional and personal success.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:50 am |
  91. Lorraine Wilson

    So are classes also planned for those who smoke, drink or take drugs? The overweight are being targeted because they wear their addiction.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:51 am |
  92. John Mark Miller

    Dear Heidi,
    I think being physically fit and of a healthy weight is a fine goal but...
    And I know you probably will think I'm just another crazy person but the scariest thing about the current state of America is our country's turning away from God.
    We are not the original story of a nation that was established, strengthened and enriched by God but we may be one of the last. Ancient Israel's establishment would not have happened without the help of God and it didn't take long for these people to forget the help of God that made their national identity possible. When they finally arrived in the promise land they had to subdue the native population overcome problems of developing ways to feed their people and soon defend their nation from envious people far away. As long as they remained faithful to God all was well. National consciousness and memory though rarely extends past the present generation that witnesses it and the concerns and fears of previous generations are soon considered groundless by present and future ones. Regardless of the proverb: "Hindsight is 20 – 20" our sight is very myopic in both directions.
    As one who grew up in the 1950s when all shops and stores were closed on Sundays, nearly everyone went to church and there were commercials on TV exhorting people to attend "their church or synagogue" this student has seen a simultaneous disintegration of our prestige and power in the world along with our faith in God. The name of Jesus Christ was not politically incorrect and people who loved Him were not considered crazy.
    People say that Christianity has been the cause of many bad things in the world but that view is distorted. The Crusades were engaged in by pseudo-Christians who forgot the basic precepts of Christianity: Love God, love your neighbor and yes love your enemies too! Take care of the poor, be generous and seek God.
    As one who has truly sought and found God I know these things to be true.
    John Mark Miller

    November 23, 2009 at 10:53 am |
  93. Alan Winston Smith

    Fitness class should be required to graduate, because Schools need to know that student loans for education will have a better chance of being repaid. Graduating people who may not survive the loan limits or be contribute to society due to poor health, is a failure to their academic community, business, and the nation.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:54 am |
  94. Terron

    Being in good health and good shape is important,but should not require to graduate or receive your dipolma.students have paid lots of money and have spent years going to school to receive this important document of the start of there career. (Mariann,FL)

    November 23, 2009 at 10:55 am |
  95. Jon

    Not ridiculous. This isn’t an issue of being fat. It’s an issue of being unhealthy. The University is educating students on how to live a healthy lifestyle.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:55 am |
  96. John, Norway MI

    Good intentions...Yes. Misplaced....Somewhat. A great idea to educate the students and make it mandatory they all take the class. It can only help. It may be something they actually use in life after college, not like some other classes. Some are upset because they don't want to hear they are overweight/unhealthy. Political correctness has its place (in politics), but people need to get a little thicker skinned. I'm tired of hearing "I'm not fat, I'm fluffy or big boned." The freshman 15 happens for a reason. If you're overweight or unhealthy, take good notes in class. If you are already doing healthy things, look at it as an easy "A".

    Looks like people want to kill the messenger because of the message. "If I don't hear I'm overweight/unhealthy than I'm not. Be nice to money, I gave you money for education, I didn't expect to be educated."

    We all need a little wakeup call sometimes to stay on the path of good health. Better this than something far worse later in life. Or complaining about not being eduated about good health.

    November 23, 2009 at 11:01 am |
  97. John, Norway MI

    meant "nice to me"

    November 23, 2009 at 11:03 am |
  98. Hollis Lefever

    Absolutely justified. Obesity is in crisis status right now and education should include hygiene.

    November 23, 2009 at 11:15 am |
  99. ckelly

    There is absolutely no science that supports the belief that a College course will reduce Obesity in adults 5 years later-

    This education needs to start with young parents and toddlers and be worked into the education through the whole school cycle. As it is now it is discriminatory...

    60% of adults were not overweight 25 years ago-most were thin adults then...educate everyone not a visible minority. Educate the whole student-mental illness, addictions and eating disorders are as much of the problem with our society as weight.

    This is program focusing on a symptom and is using discrimination (at LEAST, I am not fat!!) thinking to create a class system of scapegoats for the country's health problems.

    Educate everyone and not discriminate-use science to support your funding.

    November 23, 2009 at 11:21 am |
  100. Jesse

    It's absolutely fair, though it would be more fair to have even more strict requirements. Health care reform in a country as unhealthy as the U.S. is an absolute comedy of errors if it does not contain measures that prevent any taxpayer burden to cover the poor choices of others. Obesity and other negative health factors are a choice, no one owes these folks anything for the burden they add to the health system, let alone the tax system under the democratic health reform plan. (blows whistle) Now drop the cigs and get running!

    November 23, 2009 at 11:23 am |
  101. Liberty_man

    What is this nonsense they have on now about some economists lying? What the heck difference does it make what they say? They got it wrong last time. How bout we ask the people what is good for the economy? I got shovel ready projects right now i could put everyone to work overnite. Why don't they CBO those? Then tell us how they spent the last 700 billion and see if we like it? I don't think they need to be coming on tv and bragging about how badly they screwed things up and then expecting us to continue letting them tell us how to do it. JMHO..

    November 23, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  102. HL Brewer, MS RD CDE

    Health & Wellness as a manditory course required to graduate, if part of the curriculum, should be for ALL students (not just BMI >30). BMI is only a risk indicator in large populations. There are many athletes with a BMI >30 (muscle mass can cause someone to have a high BMI even with a healthy body fat %age) and I've seen people with BMI <18 who are very unhealthy.

    November 23, 2009 at 12:16 pm |
  103. Johndf

    I think a mandatory class in personal finance would serve this country better than a class about BMI.
    BMI numbers are flawed anyway. I'm 6'3 270 and by BMI standards im morbidly obese...thats bs. If I weighed 180 like the index says...I'd be in the hospital for malnutrition!

    November 23, 2009 at 12:22 pm |
  104. Meredith

    If it is required it should be required for all including falculty.

    November 23, 2009 at 12:34 pm |
  105. George

    I don't understand why colleges should be doing this. It seems this should be done at the grade school and high school levels. Oh I forgot need to cut school budget. No need for gym classes

    November 23, 2009 at 12:38 pm |
  106. Dntmatter

    Good idea but raises privacy issues. You don't just tell adults how to live their lives.

    November 23, 2009 at 1:32 pm |
  107. Vixen

    Either the administrators at Lincoln are assuming that overweight people must be ignorant on matters of nutrition and fitness - a ridiculous thing to assume - or they are taking punitive action against them for being overweight. Hardly surprising given the current atmosphere of obesity hysteria/scapegoating, but admirable? Not so much.

    November 23, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  108. Maddie

    If they want to do this then it should be mandatory for EVERYONE, not just the overweight students. To single out certain people based on weight is discrimination. I do hope someone sues the school. It is wrong and it is not LU's place to enforce such a rule.

    November 23, 2009 at 2:38 pm |
  109. Tamara

    I think this program is a great idea. For those who don't own up to their bad lifestyle choices and commit to make a change I say, survival of the fittest. If they are so up in arms about efforts to stop this crisis let mother nature do her job and take them first with heart attacks and strokes. Nature ALWAYS wins out, heavy is not healthy. Thanks to Lincoln for making an effort.

    November 23, 2009 at 3:20 pm |
  110. gary

    So how many of the staff insisting on this class also have a BMI over 30?

    November 23, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  111. kay

    Has anyone heard of cushing syndrome or poli cystic syndrome!!!!!
    Many young people has undiagnosed conditions ...where unbalanced hormones are causing weight gain ....not what they eat!!!
    A member of my family gained 75 pounds eating 1200 calories a day and exercising 3 hours per day. After a year, doctors realized the weight gain was hormonal...medication was given and 30 pounds have been lost in 6 months.

    This university has crossed the line ! I smell lawsuit. Where are you ACLU????

    November 23, 2009 at 4:47 pm |
  112. April

    I think its a great idea. Parents are buying crappy processed foods and the kids have to suffer. Kids don't know what they're eating. They just figure its ok because you can buy it and other people are eating it too. People are just getting fatter and fatter and one day, we are just going to be one big fat country. I had to take a mandatory conditioning class in my school and if it weren't for that, I wouldn't have known anything about body fat or the importance of being healthy. The class was an exercise type class and I hated it because I thought it was stupid and had nothing to do with school. I remember more about that class then anything else I learned in school. To me, my healthy body is more important then math, science, or history. That stuff won't kill me or make me lazy. But being healthy made my life better and happier. I think that it should be mandatory because parents don't know the dangers of fast food and processed boxed foods. That is also making people fat. Fresh fruit and vegetables is what we need and good exercise. If people think that this is a discrimination against weight, then is sending thieves to jail a discrimination against thieves? Should thieves be treated differently then rapist because they didn't go to that extreme of a crime? I don't think so. Crime is crime and everyone who is a criminal goes to jail. People who are fat or excuse me "are over their bmi" should learn the importance of exercising and should stop cring about it and just do it. They're kids, not models. Why should kids be fat anyways. Just my opinion.

    November 23, 2009 at 4:47 pm |
  113. April

    Oh and, people who are in their bmi obviously don't need a mandatory class to stay healthy.

    November 23, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  114. Steven Daniels

    I think this is a dangerously insensitive plan. With all the pressures already on college students, I find it alarming that Lincoln University would add this requirement– and the embarrassment that's likely to come with it– to students' worries. I wonder how many students will drop out, or choose a different school from the beginning, rather than face this.

    November 23, 2009 at 7:22 pm |
  115. David

    It is unfair to target students with a BMI over 30, some things are personal and this seems somewhat intruding on the students. Kudos though to the university for being on the spot and caring about students in a way that could have a major positive impact on their lives as students and as they go into the workforce or continue their studies. Actually the course should be required for every student as it would benefit them as they graduate and find jobs. It's easy to get caught between a hard driving employer and trying to manage one's personal life and not find the time to eat healthy, get in a workout, or even come home and get some sleep and relaxation.

    I would like to understand that BMI number better though and I think it's good for the university to be taking action to protect students' health and well being. In the end once they offer or even require the course in an evenhanded way, students who really need the course will be getting it without feeling like they're being punished or the curriculum is coming down on them. A more supportive situation in some ways.

    November 23, 2009 at 9:56 pm |
  116. Sandy

    I want to live a long, healthy life! Why do so many become defensive when healthy lifestyles are suggested? I've said many times that unless someone does something drastic regarding our society being overweight/obese, we will kill ourselves with fat, sugar, and salt. If you don't believe that, read "The End of Overeating" by David Kessler. Lincoln University should be applauded for stepping up.

    November 25, 2009 at 3:17 pm |
  117. David

    I think the university is wrong to require the course only of overweight students. Sorry. And most viewers catch on to the slyly demeaning aspect of this report. I stick with my post above. It's good, compassionate and sensible advice from someone who cares.

    November 25, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  118. Muin

    Great idea. I think work places should adopt this kind of approach also to have a healthy workforce

    November 26, 2009 at 3:25 pm |
  119. David

    I can see how it is a good way to husband resources for the university, giving the course to students who really need it when they need it. That is a good way to have maxium impact on a health problem.

    But it seems like we are seeing personal freedoms stripped away too.

    Having workplaces adopt such an approach would be even more intrusive. Though, I imagine most of the workforce would welcome the chance to get counseling on nutrition and health and would be delighted with time and a place to work out.

    November 26, 2009 at 8:45 pm |