UT lacks required physical education credit despite statewide obesity rates

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Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

In the face of rising obesity rates in Texas, mandatory physical education courses at UT would help reduce the number of overweight and obese adults, health education clinical professor Dolly Lambdin said.

According to The State of Obesity, a website that provides national obesity statistics, around one-third of all Texans are considered obese, making Texas the 11th most obese state in the United States. P.E. courses were a requirement for UT students 40 years ago but are not currently mandatory.

According to Lambdin, a personal health and fitness class would empower students with the skills and knowledge to make physical activity and healthy nutritional choices a part of their daily lives.

“Educated citizens would then demand healthier products and address the problems of the amazing amount of advertising of unhealthy foods in their communities which would make living a healthy lifestyle much easier,” Lambdin said.

Mandatory P.E. courses would teach students to feel comfortable going into physical activity settings, according to Lambdin.

“Many people buy memberships and then don’t go to the gym because they feel intimidated,” Lambdin said. “They don’t join a dance group or go play golf or tennis because they don’t have confidence in their movement. Education can change this.”

Finance junior Rachel Lee said mandatory P.E. courses would benefit both students and the University academically.

“Healthier students can also yield better grades and better statistics for the school,” Lee said. “But I think a variety of classes should be offered so that students can choose … whether they want something rigorous or more laid back.”

P.E. courses would benefit students when they are hired for a professional career, according to Lambdin.

“The success of careers depends on employees being healthy enough to do their jobs with vitality,” Lambdin said. “The success of most businesses depends on controlling overhead costs, a major one of which is the health of their employees and their families.”

Despite the benefits of requiring students to take P.E., the University’s lack of funding for credit hours has been a factor in trying to institute such a course, Lambdin said.

International relations freshman Margaux Bartzen believes UT has made the right choice by not implementing a mandatory P.E. course.

“We’ve done that all throughout high school and the past 12 years,” Bartzen said. “It would cost extra money that we want to spend on classes that we’re interested in and it would be a waste of our time.”