Thursday, December 1, 2011

Student struggles with weight

Injuries, academics cut into workout schedule

By Sam Horn, Sports Reporter

Weight has become more of a pressing issue in the U.S. In the past 30 years, obesity rates have doubled, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

According to The Journal of the American Medical Association, obesity has become a “raging epidemic” in the U.S.

22.2 percent of men are obese and 35.5 percent of women are obese, according to CNN.com. If a person’s body mass index surpasses 30, that individual qualifies as obese.

“I’m really impressed with some of the overweight students at PLU because they are excited to lose weight and work out,” Director of the Health Center Matthew Freeman said. “Teamwork and motivation used in sports are essential in the fight against obesity.”

For junior Kristen Monk, weight issues have been a problem since elementary school.

In 11th grade, Monk quit cross-country because she had a bone tumor in her knee that made running painful.

“I think I started adding pounds after the injury because I started not caring about how I looked,” Monk said.

Obese children are 65 percent more likely to be bullied than non-obese children, according to CNN.com. Monk said she was “bullied once in elementary school and not since.”

Participating in sports can increase lifespan and decrease the risk of developing certain cancers that can be attributed with obesity such as cancers of the kidney, pancreas, gallbladder and esophagus, according to USAToday.com.

Participating in sports isn’t the only form of effective weight-loss exercise.

“In the summer, I walk and run on the track,” Monk said. “Sometimes, I do aerobic exercises, like push-ups and crunches.”

The socioeconomic status of a family is a major factor in whether weight is an issue or not. Families with lower incomes tend to eat cheap and over-processed food, Health Center educator Matthew Munson said. Members of families with little money are more likely to become obese.

“Cheap food is bad food,” Munson said.

Monk eats dinner at home with her family.

“I have whatever my mom makes, and most of the time our dinners consist of either spaghetti or pizza,” Monk said.

When Monk was in middle school, she tried the Atkins diet with her family. However, the method didn’t work out as planned.

“I also tried to eat more fruit and salad to help me lose weight,” Monk said. “The Atkins diet didn’t really do it for me so we quit soon after.”

LuteFit is an organization that educates PLU students about topics related to obesity with programs and meetings. The LuteFit Committee promotes a “climate of wellness in which students, staff and faculty may become engaged in healthy behaviors,” according to the LuteFit website.

LuteFit organizes the annual LuteLoop run. This 5k walk-run event is open to PLU faculty, staff, students and family members. The course begins in Red Square, cuts through various parts of campus and ends back in Red Square. The LuteLoop will take place in March.

Each term, students have the opportunity to participate in an intramural sport. In the winter, the intramural sports offered are basketball, dodgeball and volleyball in Olson Gym.

“Students can set their own goals and accomplish them, and improve in whatever sport they’re playing,” Munson said. “They [intramurals] can give people cardiovascular benefits as well.”

For students in college such as Monk, fitting exercise into a busy schedule can be difficult.

“I think that right now, I have to focus on studying,” Monk said. “Once I’m done with college, though, I will motivate myself to get in shape.”