Can Universities Force "Underweight" Students to Gain?

   By drodriguez  Apr 11, 2014

One Yale University student can attest that not everyone packs on the freshman fifteen, but she didn’t expect to be punished for it. Yale student Frances Chan claims she was threatened with suspension after the student health center decided she was underweight and needed to gain a few pounds.

Chan recently wrote an essay for Huffington Post relaying her ongoing ordeal with trying to gain weight in order to satisfy the medical staff at her university. The 5’2” 90 pound student recently visited the Yale health center regarding a lump in her breast that turned out to be benign.

After her initial visit the medical staff grew concerned over her weight and put her on a mandatory weekly weigh-in regimen, threatening to place her on medical leave from her schooling if she did not comply. Chan tried to explain that her small size was hereditary and that she eats a healthy amount of food, but just doesn’t gain weight easily. Chan explains, “I've always been small. I've been 5'2'' and 90 pounds since high school, but it has never led to any illnesses related to low weight or malnutrition. My mom was the same; my whole family is skinny.”

Rather than fight the medical staff, who Chan feels bases their diagnosis on BMI numbers alone, she decided to try and gain the two pounds they said she was required to gain. Every night before bed she wolfed down three or four scoops of ice cream, cookies and Cheetos in an effort to gain. When the scale finally said she was two pounds heavier, the nurse at the medical center told her she would have to continue gaining until she was 95 pounds.

It was at this point Chan decided to stop complying with what she felt were unreasonable demands from her school. She explains, “I was scheduled to have a mental health appointment at 9:00 a.m. and a weigh-in at 10:30 a.m. this past Friday. But I'm done. No more weigh-ins, no more blood draws. I don't have an eating disorder, and I will not let Yale Health cause me to develop one. If Yale wants to kick me out, let them try -- in the meantime, I'll be studying for midterms, doing my best to make up for lost time.” Through research, Chan also found that Yale has had a history of demanding women with underweight BMI numbers gain weight or face the consequences.

What do you think of this student’s ordeal with her school demanding she gain weight?

Do you think schools should rely on BMI numbers when attempting to diagnose unhealthy weights and eating disorders?

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pokokokoo by pokokokoo | London, KY
May 13, 2024

nice post

service1010 by service1010 | Portal, AZ
Apr 13, 2014

I am not a student but I am sick and tired of friends saying 'you're too skinny!' Yes, I am thin. I have a high metabolism, I eat healthy - very little junk food - and I walk my dogs or jog every day. Get over it.... I have a full physical every year and my doc says I am just fine

lovebutterflyangel by lovebutterflyangel | BRUNSWICK, GA
Apr 11, 2014

Wow that's sick. You can't be skinny you can't be fat what are we supposed to be? Nothing is ever good enough for society. Unless she is sick cause of her weight then they should shut up and let her go to school