Thin Yale Student Battles University Over Weight


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Frances Chan, a Yale University student, has had enough of eating ice cream and cookies in order to gain weight. After months of medical tests and even a psychological assessment, Yale University finally agrees.

Over the past several months, Chan, a 20-year-old history major, has sparred with the University over what it perceives is unhealthy low weight. Chan is 5’2” and 92 lbs. and contends she’s always been very thin, just as her parents and grandparents were at her age.

That didn’t satisfy Yale, however. Until this past Friday, Yale had been telling Chan that if she didn’t put on some pounds, she would be forced to leave school.

“I ate ice cream twice a day,” Chan told the New Haven Register. “I ate cookies. I used the elevator instead of walking up stairs. But I don’t really gain any weight.”

On the Huffington Post, Chan details her struggle with Yale Health officials in a piece titled “Yale University Thinks I Have an Eating Disorder.”

“In the past three weeks alone, I have spent ten hours at Yale Health, our student health center,” she wrote. “Since December, I have had weekly weigh-ins and urine tests, three blood tests, appointments with a mental health counselor and a nutritionist, and even an EKG done to test my heart. My heart was fine -- as it always has been -- and so was the rest of my body. So what was the problem?”

According to Chan, they think she has an eating disorder but would not look “past the numbers on the scale, to see the person right in front of them.”

What followed was a medical circus—a lot of tests, mental health evaluations, nutritionists, and more. She would “load up on carbs for each meal” and eat “3-4 scoops of ice cream twice a day with chocolate, cookies, or Cheetos at bedtime.”

Eventually the scale went up two pounds but that still wasn’t enough.

The real culprit, Chan said, was the University doctors’ reliance on BMI or Body Mass Index to determine a healthy level of weight for an individual. Finally, Chan said that she had had enough.

“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,” she wrote. “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.”

And on Friday, her new physician relented and said that BMI wasn’t the only significant measure of proper health. The new physician trusts that Chan doesn’t have an eating disorder and that they’ve made a mistake.

As for Chan, she’ll continue to go to the Yale health center—but only once per semester.

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