Fitness email stirs controversy at Pennsylvania college

BRYN MAWR, Pa. (AP) — A small suburban Philadelphia college apologized Friday after it stirred controversy with an email advertising a fitness program to overweight students.

Bryn Mawr College, a school with fewer than 2,000 students, sent an email to students recently offering the program for students with an “elevated” body mass index. Entry into the program was contingent on a student having an elevated BMI, spokesman Matt Gray said.

The email drew criticism on social media from students and others who called it unethical and an invasion of privacy.

The program — designed to offer students counseling, nutrition advice and a fitness plan — had been offered by the college twice previously without any complaints, Gray said.

On Friday, college health center Director Dr. Kay Kerr sent a campuswide email apologizing to students upset by some of the “communications that were used to invite students” to take part in the program.

“On behalf of everyone involved with this program, I sincerely apologize to anyone who has been upset or offended by our communications, and I want to reassure the community that we will rethink our approaches and our assumptions moving forward,” Kay said.

The students’ health information came from the health center, but Gray said he didn’t know it was collected.

The American Heart Association says BMI is used as a screening tool to identify whether an adult is at a healthy weight.

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