UT ranks among top 25 healthiest colleges

Nashwa Bawab

UT ranked as one of the 25 healthiest universities in the U.S., according to Greatist, an online fitness and health startup.

Greatist determined rankings based on a questionnaire that asked about dining services, fitness amenities and healthcare on campus. The Office of Student Affairs compiled answers for the questionnaire with the help of different departments within the University Health Services, Recreational Sports, Division of Housing and Food Services and the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center, according to Jessica Wagner, manager at University Health Services.

Wagner said UT was nominated because of data accumulated from several other national rankings

“The University of Texas at Austin was ranked … on last year’s Greatist list, we’re No. 2 in the 2014 Trojan Sexual Health Report Card and often rank in the top 10 on several of The Princeton Review’s lists,” Wagner said. “We are proud to have some of the good work happening on this campus recognized in this national format.”

The Greatist ranking mentioned programs including the Healthyhorns Nap Map, an interactive map that shows the best places to nap on campus and HealthyhornsTXT, a new texting service that sends subscribers advice on how to stay healthy.

Jennifer Speer, associate director at the Division of Recreational Sports, said renovations to Belmont Hall’s weight rooms and the intramural sports program are some ways the department tries to incorporate a healthy lifestyle for the UT community.

“I think our goal at any of the places on campus is always to make sure our school is as healthy as possible,” Jennifer said. “We want to make sure that students know that collectively we’re trying to make the University as healthy and well as possible.”

An important aspect of ensuring student’s health is the type of accommodations made for those with special dietary needs, such as those who eat gluten-free diets and those with food allergies, according to Lindsay Wilson, registered dietitian for DHFS. Wilson said she thinks this national ranking means UT is getting recognized for the work put into making sure members of the community are healthier, but she said she still hopes to see a “food-as-medicine” method in food service in the future.

“We currently live in a time where we know more about nutritional science than ever before, have dietary guidelines in place, and numerous tools and resources available, like registered dietitians, to teach people how to eat healthfully. Yet, the health of our nation doesn’t reflect this,” Wilson said. “I believe that chefs, foodservice managers and menus should be more of an extension of the health-supportive messages coming from dietitians and health care teams.”

Austin was also nationally ranked by Forbes as one of the 20 healthiest cities in the nation, while 17 other southern cities were ranked among the least healthy.