Ida Thagesen comments on the unhealthy habits of English universities
Try to think back at Freshers Week for a moment. How many times were you offered free Snickers? How many days in a row did Domino’s sell pizzas for £1 right next to the Guild? I was offered free Snickers so many times that I can’t even answer that question. But one question I can surely answer: how many times was I offered a tomato sandwich or an organic falafel for £1? How many times was I offered a piece of free fruit? Zero.
The expression ‘Fresher 15’ refers to an American phenomenon, wherein many first year college students gain around 15 pounds of weight. However, this is no longer just an American occurrence, with research showing that almost half of all English students report gaining weight during their first year at university.
As an international student from Denmark I can easily compare the English lifestyle to the Danish, and when I think back at Freshers Week, I think of cheap cake, cheap beer, free noodles and free candy. This differs big time from the Danish version of Freshers Week. It seems like UoB students operate in a system that makes an unhealthy lifestyle the easiest choice – and a healthy lifestyle a fairly difficult one.
Health is a serious problem in Britain. To the rest of Europe, Britain is known as ‘The fat man of Europe.’ According to The Telegraph, 40.4% of people in England are overweight, and a further 24.4% of people are obese.
Knowing this, UoB should be working hard on increasing students’ health by making sure cheap and healthy food is provided.
Some would claim that it is the student’s’ own responsibility to eat healthy, which is partially true. After living home with your parents your whole life, adapting the same eating habits as them, you finally move out, become a Fresher at UoB and get your own choice. It is the time to create your own habits, and choose to create a healthy lifestyle. But how can we take responsibility for creating healthy habits when there are no healthy alternatives?
It is true that there are healthy alternatives around campus. But the salads on campus are hidden away in a corner of Spar, way more expensive than the cakes found on every corner in every coffee shop. How do we choose the healthy lifestyle when we can’t afford it?
Maybe eating healthy is not necessary during Freshers Week – it’s only one week! However the habits that is created in the beginning of university could shape the rest of your life. And even though it is perfectly ok and natural to snack, it is highly problematic that is so difficult to find a healthy and cheap alternative. It is highly important that UoB and local companies take responsibility for making ‘the fat man of Europe’ as fat as he is – and that they provide us with a option of cheap and healthy food.