A Chinese university has launched a weight-loss course where students will receive marks for taking walks in the park and eating vegetables.
Sixty per cent of students' grades will be determined by how much weight they lose, said the paper. Those who lose seven per cent of their starting weight automatically get a perfect score, it added.
Fifty students have enrolled in the year-long course that is designed for students who would struggle to complete otherwise mandatory physical education classes, the Times said.
The university trialled weight-loss classes after finding that its students are getting heavier, with nearly 13 per cent of those in first and second year overweight. When the trial was successful, physical education instructor Zhou Quanfu was allowed to introduce the course into the university's curriculum.
Nearly all the students who applied for a place were enrolled after having their height, weight, heart rate, blood pressure and lung capacity measured and are asked to jog on treadmills every day, as well as complete outdoor assignments such as step climbing, trail running and walks in local parks.
They must also log everything they eat and record the calories they consume, uploading photographs of their meals to a messaging service where they will be given diet advice from two nutritionists.
One student, who weighs 18st 11lbs, said: “I would never pass tests in a normal physical education class. I’d like to go on a diet.” His aim is to lose 1st 8lb.
The fitness course is the latest response from schools and colleges to concerns that the lack of general fitness among China’s youth is becoming a generational problem.
Tsinghua University has, according to the Times, reinstated an old rule that its students cannot graduate without demonstrating the ability to swim 50m.
Peking University’s School of Public Health predicts that 28 per cent of children in China aged between seven and 18 – or almost 50 million children – will be classified as obese or overweight by 2030.