Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
D.R. Laferriere

Weighing in on obesity

Why the fight against fat is aiming at the wrong target

“Big bones didn’t make me this way. Big meals did.”

This catchphrase, taken from one state’s childhood obesity–prevention program, is intended to provoke while seeking to direct attention to a growing health crisis. It, indeed, does that. The problem, however, is that the nation’s war against obesity—catchphrases and all—far too often is wandering into dangerous territory. The fight against “fat” is turning into a fight that is not against obesity but instead against those who are obese.

There has been an alarming rise in obesity rates over the past few decades, with estimates suggesting that one-third of adults and children are overweight or obese, with 12.5 million children falling into the obese category. It is clear that something must be done. But how can communities create positive change without adding to the insidious problem of weight-based prejudice? The key is in examining attitudes about obesity, specifically weight-based prejudice and stereotypes, and how they are having an impact on the public policy being created to try to deal with the epidemic.

Weight-based stereotypes imply that the obesity epidemic is the result of poor lifestyle choices and general laziness. If this were the case, we could simply create interventions that punish poor behavior. Unfortunately, the reality of the obesity epidemic is far more complex. Widespread weight gain has been spurred by cultural changes resulting in time and resource limitations, changes in leisure-time activities, and advances in food technology. Only through examining our stereotyped attitudes toward obesity can we move past overly simplistic and potentially hurtful programs to embrace interventions aimed at these more important societal influences.

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Action!

Alums' production company takes the lead behind the scenes

How’s this for a new reality show? Ten of the nation’s most elite soldiers, plucked from all branches of the United States military, competing to prove who is the toughest, most strategic fighter, shooting Glock pistols, AK-47s and even M249 light machine guns mounted on the back of Jeeps during a series of military-inspired challenges.

That’s “Maximum Warrior,” a Web-based series commissioned by Jeep and men’s magazine Maxim set to start filming in Arkansas in June. The New York City production company making the series is Grand Street Media, which traces its roots straight back to Wheaton, where a decade ago three friends met and began dreaming big.

On the set of “Maximum Warrior”: Jesse Guma rides in the follow vehicle as a warrior fires a M249 machine gun off the back of a Jeep at targets.

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Keeping Wheaton strong

Go Beyond, Campaign for WheatonThe alumnae/i, parents and friends who are contributing to Go Beyond: Campaign for Wheaton are making a difference for students today and for years to come. Through the campaign, supporters are providing resources for scholarships; creating funds for student-faculty research; and helping to improve campus facilities. The campaign now stands at more than $106 million, on its way toward the goal of $120 million by June 30, 2014.   [Read more...]

A conversation with…Janet Lindholm Lebovitz ’72

Janet Lindholm Lebovitz ’72 has been involved with Wheaton since her graduation. Prior to becoming a trustee, she held volunteer positions for the college that included serving as a class fund agent, reunion gift chair, an alumnae/i board member and a member of the President’s Commission. “I understand what is happening on campus and also the challenges faced by the college,” she says. Her ongoing relationship with her alma mater coupled with her extensive fundraising experience and her strategic and financial skills—she was vice president of Citicorp in the 1980s—make her a valued member of the board. A member of the Campaign Steering Committee, she talks about the importance of alumnae/i engagement, the success of the campaign and the value of a Wheaton education.

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