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Fitness and Wellness
Member, Texas Tech University System The Princeton Review - 373 Best Colleges, 2011 Edition

Nutrition and Weight Loss

Student at cafeteria

Eating a balanced diet and maintaining an appropriate weight are critical factors related to staying healthy. Being overweight, in particular, puts you at a much higher risk level of developing health problems such as high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea and some cancers (endometrial, breast and colon).

Being overweight is not just an older adult problem. Many recent studies indicate that obesity is also a growing problem among children and adolescents, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. A 2007-2009 report by the Trust for America’s Health listed Texas as being the 13th most overweight state in the nation.

Many college students will gain weight during their first semester at a university. This weight gain tends to be caused by a lifestyle change that includes lack of exercise, eating late at night, keeping unhealthy snacks in dorms rooms and alcohol consumption. For more information on “Freshman 15” and tips on how to avoid weight gain, visit www.freshman15.com.

There are many resources available to help you determine how to plan a balanced diet and what your healthy weight rate should be. A good source for nutrition information is mypyramid.gov, which offers food tips, charts and diet analysis calculators.

Weight and Body Mass Index (BMI) guidelines are widely available on the Internet or from your health care provider. Most medical experts consider healthy BMI’s to be those between 18.5 and 24.9, although some individuals who are very muscular may not fit these general guidelines. You can visit the Department of Health and Human Services to access a BMI calculator and see recommended guidelines.

Achieving or maintaining a healthy weight depends on balancing the calories that you take in compared to the calories that your body burns through exercise and normal metabolism. The “take home” message is that approximately 3,500 calories will add up to one pound gained or lost. Losing weight means that you either increase the amount of exercise or decrease the number of calories consumed.