Shanghai college students gain extra credit by losing weight

Updated 2018-01-08 14:31:06

A new course at East China University of Political Science and Law is causing heated discussions among its students. Starting next semester, the esteemed school aims to help students develop a healthy lifestyle with a new class where one's grades are based on their overall success in losing weight.

The course is only open to 24 students, but more than 70 have applied at the time of reporting. Course teacher Ruan Weiguo suggested that students whose BMI (Body Mass Index, a widely used value in deciding the thickness or thinness of an individual) exceeds 27 (overweight), ought to enroll in his course.

Ruan has been teaching at the university for over six years, including basketball and physical education (PE) theories. During this time, he found that failure in the PE courses had become one of the major reasons preventing some students from graduating.

In China, PE is an obligatory course at most universities and colleges; those who fail often experience delayed graduation until they manage to pass.

"It's hard for students who are overweight to do sports, including long jumps and chin-ups," Ruan told the Global Times. "Obesity will probably bring further trouble in their work and life, so I want to help them develop a healthy lifestyle and regain confidence," he said.

No loss, no pass

Ruan initially surveyed freshmen, sophomores and juniors at the university in 2017, finding that there were about 200 to 400 students who were either clinically overweight or obese. That shocking figure helped him make up his mind about planning the new course.

According to Ruan, there will be 16 classes at the university next term including nutrition or scientific theories relating to physical exercises.

But the teacher admits that this is far from enough to help these 24 students lose weight.

For the weight loss course, Ruan plans to start a file for each student to record their everyday diet and physical exercise routine. He will also regularly monitor each students' BMI, blood pressure and body fat percentage. Their final assessment will be concluded on the basis of their overall success.

"I won't set a universal standard for all, because everyone is different from each other in body conditions," he said.

"But to accomplish the course, students must rely more on self-discipline. Therefore, I decided that their daily behavior will account for 30 percent of their final grade," Ruan noted.

Ruan added that the university is providing funding and facility support for the new class. He will also strive to improve the course for future students by establishing standards and goals based on the needs and experiences of the students attending this debut course.

Zhai Yong, a sophomore at the university, told the Global Times that he is excited about attending the class and is grateful just for being accepted.

"I didn't know whether I could succeed because so many students were trying to register for it," Zhai said.

The student said he has been trying to lose weight by dieting since high school. Standing 174 centimeters tall and weighing about 90 kilograms, he hopes that this course will help him reduce his weight in a systematic and scientific way.

"My target is to lose 10 kilograms. It is a lot of pressure, but I am confident that I can do that with teacher Ruan's help," Zhai noted.

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