After a couple of months at a college in US, I came to a conclusion that American society might not be heading towards horrific obesity. Well, at least not the students of UConn. It is surprising that peer pressure can have positive results.
The food at the dining halls is fairly healthy and good, however, as it is all-you-can-eat open for most of the day, people find it hard to limit themselves. You know: it’s all cooked, it’s all ready, why not just have another plate? Or another scoop of ice-cream? So everyone eats – maybe more more than they should. And everyone should be getting fat. All exchange students kind of made their peace with it: you go to USA, you get fat. But what we didn’t see coming was the peer pressure to do sports regularly. Obviously not in a humiliating kind of way, but more in a teasing kind of: ‘another cake? Have you been to the gym lately?’. This strategy has worked so far – most of us haven’t gained a pound and the rest looks better than ever.
And it’s not only the exchange students. UConn is big on sports. Watching, doing, everything! Everyone does something, even intramural flag football. Also, everyone watches sports: football, soccer, volleyball, anything. Students are very eager to support all their teams. It feels so much different than European universities. When was the last time you heard someone say: ‘I went to see UofE play football against Glasgow’? Here sports are treated as a very fun way to spend an afternoon with your friends, maybe party afterwards.
Even though the rest of America seems to be interested in sports in a purely theoretical way and the obesity is visible on the streets, there are communities that value staying in a good shape. Some may argue that it all comes from the vain need to look attractive, but at the end of the day, is it better to look good, because you are healthy or be obese, because you don’t care about your looks?