Eat and Exercise for Credit!
Justification, Background and Target Population
The problem of obesity and overall fitness in The United States is growing more and more hopeless. Furthermore, college students are often too busy to participate in extracurricular activities. In order to change this sedentary way of college life, eating junk food and not exercising it off, each student will be required to take six classes that help teach them how to get quick workouts in. Students will also learn ways of healthy eating that are no harder to prepare than the junk food they have been eating
At the beginning of each semester through junior year, the student will have to pay $150 in lieu of a textbook. This will mostly be used for food, but will also be used print-outs and review materials.
The target population for this intervention is every single student that walks through our halls throughout their freshman, sophomore and junior years. If there are physical disabilities, we will obviously do our best to accommodate them. Healthy living is not just for people who have full physical range, it should be made available for everybody. There are web-based programs for healthy eating that can be incorporated into the three dietary classes (Franco, Cousineau, et al. 2008). Exercising in college will take up two of the six classes, and we’ll focus on all the benefits of physical activity while participating (Warburton, Nicol, Bredin, 2006). The final class will be on healthy living after college in order to avoid heart disease, diabetes and depression (Dillinger, 2012).
Intervention Details, Specifics and Designs
Since these will be required classes, for credit, it means we will have to balance out other currently required classes. Most programs at any college have the student take several filler courses that they don’t necessarily need to advance their lives in any way. Some colleges have the student choose just as many optional courses as required courses, leaving the student confused. We will have to through all the proper channels, including the college’s Dean or President, and the College Board of Directors. We will probably have to plead our case before them.
Then we will need to work with fitness instructors and dieticians to ensure that everything is being done correctly. Hopefully we can get these professors to start teaching these courses, or we may have to hire new people. Whoever the professors end up being will have to meet with each other to make a consistent curriculum that has each class build on prior courses.
Aside from working with each individual student, the goal is ultimately to change the culture of the whole school in general. If we are successfully making the class interesting, we can change the environment of the school. Food classes will have to take place in a culinary arts part of the campus. Exercise classes will need the workout center, gym, or outdoor areas depending on the activity of the day.
Because these are all full credit courses, the exercise courses can meet three times a week for about a forty-five-minute session, taking out time for changing in the locker room. The food courses should meet twice a week, so that if we make multiple things in one day, we will have the time to do so. The meals will include all three major meals of the day, and two snacks a day. For each meal, we will aim for 400 calories, 100 calories per snack, with foods that are high in protein and complex carbohydrates, as well as healthy, polyunsaturated fats. We’ll make all five meals with optimal vitamin amounts per meal, not taking one calorie for granted. The calorie counts can be adjusted at the students wish, such as if their total percentage of fat, or their BMI, is higher than they would like it to be.
The theory at work here is that learning how to maintain a healthy way of living early on directly affects how a person will live the rest of their life. In colleges across the country, this is not prioritized at all, and everybody who is not in sports ends up gaining a bunch of weight from an unhealthy diet no workout regimen, and the resulting stress and depression that can go along with the unhealthy way of life.
Graph is credited to the Massachusetts Medical Society, 2002. The First three data sets are levels of different diseases, the last three are health risks. The colors correspond to each other directly.
Evaluation plans are really simple. Before and after each semester, we will look at BMI, percentage fat, and other health issues, to see if there is any general pattern of improvement. It will be made clear to every student that this outcome data has nothing to do with making judgements about how well they did or how poorly, but rather to gauge the success of the program. If we see an overall 6% decrease in fat among women, 4% decrease in men each year that they take these classes, the classes that were taken by each group of students that witnessed this pattern can be ruled successful. Surveys can also be administered to the students after each class to see if they feel better about their health in a multitude of different ways.
The proof-of-concept will start out as an optional program over a three-year period, and over each class, we will look at different data sets, similar to the graph that was just illustrated. These graphics will be taken each semester of the voluntary students. The larger scale study will ultimately just be making the set of classes mandatory, then evaluating the success rate. This is what is almost always done with novel classes in other departments to gauge if they were successful, and it will work for this as well.
If these plans work well, and our initial data is coming up with positive results, we will have to reconstruct a much tighter evaluation plan into an actual scientific study. We will have to involve biomechanics scientists, pathologists, dieticians, an entire panel of doctors who can really look at each corner of this program. Over the course of a year, we will closely monitor all classes in the program, then articulate a peer-reviewed, academic, clinical study. As the developers of this program, we would go around to different colleges and give presentations for professors, as well as Master’s and PhD. candidates.
If the plan is not successful, we can use these same faculty members to look at what the possible problems might be. More than anything else, these classes are not intended to be hard. We want the students to perceive healthy living as being easy. Hopefully this program works out well.
Dillinger, Dylan. “A Guide to Acquiring Healthy Nutrition and Fitness Habits for College
Wright State University. 2012 Web. 28 Apr. 2016
Franco, Debra, Tara Cousineau, et al. “Motivation, self-efficacy, physical activity and nutrition
in college students: Randomized controlled trial of an Internet-based education program.”
US National Library of Medicine. 2008. Web. 29 Apr. 2016
Massachusetts Medical Society. “Relative Risk of Death.” US National Library of Medicine.
2002. Graph. 29 Apr. 2016
Warburton, Darren, Crystal Nicol and Shannon Bredin. “Health benefits of physical activity: the
Evidence. US National Library of Medicine. 2006. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.