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obesityEmory University junior Julia Prochazka makes sure to work out every day and is very conscious of what she puts into her body. Her friends gained weight in college and she knows the consequences of obesity.

“I think for me the biggest thing is to just remember that what goes into my body determines how I feel when I am working out and running around in my hectic life,” Prochazka said.

About one-third of people in the U.S. are obese, or around 30 pounds heavier than their recommended weight. But a new study shows that if something doesn’t change soon, the number of obese people in the country will increase considerably.

According to an analysis published in The Lancet, obesity rates among men could rise from 32% in 2008 to 50% in 2030, and rates among women could rise from 35% in 2008 to anywhere from 45% to 52% in 2030.

Today’s college students may not realize that they are included in the projected statistics for 2030. And what many of them don’t know, is that they have the ability to help change those numbers.

Experts say that the hectic American lifestyle and childhood obesity may be to blame.

Some college students party all night or study until 4 a.m. and these extra hours lead to the consumption of additional calories. When they’re in a rush in between classes, it’s easier to just grab something from the fast food section of the cafeteria than to make their own salad.

But universities across the country have made efforts to offer healthier options. However, it’s up to the students to take advantage of them.

“[Colleges] have done a lot to improve health on campus for the most part, but they can’t make decisions for us,” Emory University senior Vincenza Pimpinella said. “Colleges can only give us the option to make a healthy meal choice. They can’t tell us what to eat or take away all other unhealthy options.”

Nutritionist Patricia Simonds feels similarly. She thinks that making healthier options available on campus and making it mandatory for kids to exercise are steps in the right direction.

“Children learn what they live and right now they are learning how to eat unhealthy food and that exercise is not important enough to be part of an everyday school experience, in most cases,” Simonds said. “Until value is placed upon healthy food and the intrinsic need to move, we are destined for trouble.”

But in the end, it’s up to the college students to make the change and set the example for everyone to follow.

“College students can make the change,” Simonds said. “They’re the ones being educated about what they’re going to be dealing with in the future, and we have a major epidemic going on. And it’s only going to get worse. They’re the ones that can actually get something done. They’re learning about it, they’re the frontline people.”

To view the original article, visit USA TODAY College

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