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Weight Loss Program Email Sparks Outrage At Local College

By Diana Rocco

BRYN MAWR, Pa., (CBS) -- Targeted for their weight. Students at Bryn Mawr College were asked to enroll in a weight loss program based on their body mass index. The health center used its records to identify students with higher BMIs and in an email told them they qualified for a special health and wellness program. They could enroll for physical education credits.

It includes counseling, nutrition advice, group support and a personalized fitness plan.  Junior Josette Graves says some of her friends got the email.

"They didn't see themselves as being overweight so the fact that health center was targeting them and telling them that they are, kind of put their self-esteem down,"  said Graves.

The story gained national attention when neighboring Swarthmore College highlighted the email titled "Give a HOOT" in their school paper The Phoenix.  Students took to Facebook expressing their concern and outrage.

"Since social media is so big for us, there's a big social media presence, so I guess you could say, it spread quickly," said a student.

The health center director issued an apology saying in part:

"While this program has been offered successfully in the past, this semester several students have taken issue with some of the communications that were used to invite students to take advantage of this opportunity. 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."

"I think it will be handled quickly," said a student.

While the college has apologized, they say this program is now in its third year and some students have decided to take advantage of it.

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