A class teaching students how to lose weight will start in March at East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai. More than 70 students have applied for the 24 places available.
Ruan Weiguo, a physical education teacher at the university, told Shanghai Daily that he decided to launch the class, the first of its kind in the city, as he had seen some obese students failing to graduate as they failed PE tests.
"Every semester, there are some overweight students in my class," said Ruan. "Some of them perform so poorly that they could not pass the PE tests."
Under Ministry of Education rules college students need credits in PE to get their diplomas.
"I have seen students so frustrated that they failed the tests again and again," Ruan said.
Obesity may influence students' self-esteem, while poor scores in PE also pull down their overall grades, hindering them from winning scholarships and other honors, he added.
Ruan said students attending the class could earn two academic credits when losing weight.
He said he would try to help students reduce weight by teaching them theories and practices to build up a healthy lifestyle.
"I will set up a personal file to track each student's progress and adjust each one's tailored plan accordingly," he said.
Ruan will arrange physical exercises in class, such as brisk walking, slow jogging, strength and agility training, but students will also have to exercise after class.
He will also teach the theory of nutrition, methods to calculate energy intake and consumption and concepts of healthy lifestyle.
Students will have to record their food intake and their physical exercises, as well as their weight, every day.
Ruan said grades would be handed out based on students' performance in the whole process, rather than just on how many kilograms students had shaken off,
"The process is more important than the grade," said Ruan. "Through the class, I wish to help them cultivate a healthy lifestyle and a spirit of self-discipline for their future life."
Interest in the class far exceeded Ruan's expectation.
He planned to have a small class with up to 24 students, but more than 70 had signed up for it.
"Our university class application system made the choice randomly and I'm sorry for those who were not selected," he said, adding that it was difficult to expand the class as it involved tailored training for each student.
Zhai Yong, 20, a sophomore majoring in International Law, was among the lucky ones. He said he could not wait to apply for the course when he heard about it.
At 1.75 meters tall, he weighs more than 90 kilograms.
"I tried to lose weight by myself with a low-carbohydrate diet and did reduce it to 75 kilograms when I was a freshman," he said. "But I failed to keep on the dieting habit and I gained the weight back."
Zhai said he wished to learn some scientific and sustainable methods for losing weight.
"It's glad to have companions in the class," he said. "And the academic credits will be stimulus for me to stick to it."