The University of Alabama in Huntsville administration offers many places to eat on campus. However, there are real concerns regarding an increase with student health related problems with many directly attributable to poor meal options on campus. Obesity, diabetes, and heart problems caused by elevated salt, sugar, and fat content in campus meals are the primary health concerns (Fleck). In the film, Eating Alabama, it is clear that most food is not grown locally anymore. The film exposed that much of the U.S. imported food contains toxins that may be harmful to humans. Food taste is improved when fresh ingredients are used. Great tasting food is more likely to be consumed by students. Processed food, often marketed as tasty and low calorie, is often high in salt. High salt content masks the bland taste of processed food while home grown foods are naturally balanced and taste fresh without adding salt. Healthy good tasting food offerings will help encourage improved eating habits reducing student health risks. The University has a major role to play with reducing student health problems. The university would improve the health of its students by promoting healthy meal options and establishing the College for Agriculture whereby student grown food is used to prepare healthy dishes within a student café.
Many students are suffering from obesity and other related health issues primarily caused by a poor diet. A substantial portion of a student’s daily intake of food is on campus. Campus admission rules require that all students purchase a food plan that limits students to on campus food vendors. Many of the options offered by these vendors makeup the food choices that contribute to poor Alabama health figures. As a cliché, Alabama is known for its sweet tea and fried chicken; however, the truth is that Alabama’s obesity rate has reached 32.2% (“2. Alabama”). Alabama has the most diabetics in the county, increasing by more than 7% since 1995 (“2. Alabama”). According to CBS News, Alabamans have the highest increase in hypertension rates in the country (“2. Alabama”). Campus restaurants are feeding students more than two times the amount of sodium intake adult's need per day ("Americans Consume Too Much Sodium (Salt)."). One burger at the World of Wings Café has 1,997.5mg of sodium in it. The recommended amount of sodium for one adult is 1,500 mg per a day ("The Effects of Excess Sodium on Your Health and Appearance."). This level of salt intake will increase heart disease if consumed on a regular basis ("Americans Consume Too Much Sodium (Salt).").
Alabama is also considered the second “fattest” state in the nation. Obesity causes high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, kidney disease, kidney stones, enlarged heart muscles, and headaches (Cervantes). These health issues have an impact on student performance by reducing alertness in class and contributing to depression and low self-esteem ("Eating Disorder Center of Denver - Your Life Worth Healing."). These health related issues may lead to missed class days, higher dropout rates, and increased health care costs. Additionally, a student’s physical appearance outside the society norm may result in higher peer pressure pushing a student to possibly develop a food related disorder ("Eating Disorder Center of Denver - Your Life Worth Healing."). There is room for improvement with on-campus food offerings. The university has a moral obligation and a business need to keep her students healthy.
To combat the growing epidemic of student health issues, the university administrators should offer less fried foods, more salads, and many grilled options. The university does not have to eliminate unhealthy food but merely make the healthy choices outweigh the unhealthy. The menu at the new World of Wings on campus only offers one grilled sandwich and two grilled chicken wraps; this is