The increasing percentage of obesity in Texas has Tyler Junior College’s staff doing everything it can do to make students healthier.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States and rates continue to increase.
According to the CDC, 31 percent of Texas’ population was obese in 2010.
“It’s a national tragedy,” said Dr. Mike Metke, president of TJC. “We have an epidemic that we’ve never had before. This is the first generation that is projected to have a shorter life than their parents.”
The United States still continues to become more obese despite the fact that the country is in an economic crisis.
“We are the only country in the world that has fat poor people. Society is getting fat because of the economic crisis,” said Vincent V. Nguyen, director of Student Life and Involvement. “Society is so worried about taking care of their family and they are not taking care of themselves.”
Advertising also contributes to obesity. There are a lot of posters and commercials that advertise fattening foods for very low prices.
“Cheap food is fattening, and healthy food (such as organic foods) is expensive,” said Nguyen. “It’s almost a luxury to be fit.”
In an effort to try to make students aware of healthier choices, TJC’s cafeteria has updated their menu. The menu gives all of the nutritional values and facts concerning the foods that the students are eating.
“I hope that it increases the student’s knowledge on foods and what actually goes into the food, and what goes into what they eat
every day,” said Charity Drummond, food Service director for Valley Foods.
Drummond explained, that if TJC gave information on nutrition, the students would be more apt to read it and make better choices.
“(The food) has gotten healthier, fresher, and the taste has improved,” said Kelcee Guyton, a student at TJC.
TJC is also trying other ways to promote a healthier lifestyle.
“We do anything to promote working out or physical activity,” Nguyen said. “Students tend to enjoy life a little better, they are not as angry (after they workout). If you are fit, you’re more happy.”
“It’s important to eat right and try to do some physical activities,” said Metke. “The College has started a walking class. The staff and students have organized walks around the campus in the walking class.”
Metke’s favorite form of exercise is bike riding.
“What’s nice about bike riding is that you can do it pretty much your whole life. “It’s a good exercise for everyone, ” Metke said.
On Oct. 22, TJC has planned a day of activities called the Tour for The Cure. A challenging bike ride, a family fun bike ride, contests and games and more will be held on that day.
TJC’s students and staff are constantly organizing recreational events such as ping-pong tournaments, volleyball, flag football, and basketball tournaments.
“Exercising is very important, and it gives you new life,” Nguyen said.
For information about healthy activities on campus, call the center for Student Life and Involvement at 903-510-2259.