Lincoln U. Scraps Controversial Health Requirements

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According to eurweb.com

In the wake of widespread criticism, Lincoln University has voted to repeal a policy that required students with a Body Mass Index of 30 or above to take a fitness class in order to graduate, reports Black Enterprise.

Instead, all undergraduate students will be required to take a general health class, after which the professor will recommend, but not require, a fitness class for those students who they believe are at risk for hypokinetic disease (obesity) based on a battery of health risk appraisals, not just BMI (a measure of a person’s body fat based on height and weight).

“In no way, form, or fashion was there any intent to discriminate or to insinuate that we were discriminating against a group of people,” says Lincoln University President Ivory V. Nelson of the policy that was instituted in 2005.

Some experts argue that BMI is a crude measurement that can be inaccurate. Thomas LaVeist, director of the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says he applauds the school for  trying to do something proactive to deal with a serious problem that is particularly important among African Americans.

“However I think their mistake was assuming that physical and nutritional education should only be given to people with a BMI over 30,” he said.

Student Tianna Y. Lawson wrote in the Lincolnian, the school’s student newspaper, that the policy infringed on her right of personal choice. However, people who are overweight and obese do not have special protection under anti-discrimination laws, says Samantha Graff, director of legal research at the National Policy & Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity.

Graff recommends that private institutions promote healthier lifestyles without singling out a particular group of people. For example, they can open stairwells and provide free access to the gym to encourage exercise, get rid of junk food in campus vending machines, and/or sponsor a community garden or farmer’s market.

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