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Health-Oriented Organizations Unite to Improve Student Health

Dallas Steffen | Staff Writer | 01/19/2011

Healthy BS-U, an on-campus health fair, was launched in the Beaux Arts Ballroom January 12.

The fair brought the health programs and businesses of Bemidji together, with the intention of educating BSU students and the public about living a healthy lifestyle and giving them the resources and information for the services and products available.

One of the products displayed at the event was Zelo, an “enhanced water beverage.”  Promoting the product was entrepreneur and creator of Zelo, Lynn Dauner from Ada, Minn.

“Zelo is the only enhanced water on the market that can make the claim that it contains no calories, sugar, carbohydrates, caffeine, colors, flavors, sodium, or fat,” said Dauner. “It has a subtle but noticeable taste, like going into a restaurant and asking for water with a lemon wedge in it or strawberries dunked in it.”

Dauner was enthusiastic when sharing the success of Zelo.

“We are very excited because Denise Austin from the Lifetime Network called and asked if we could be a water sponsor.  We have Zelo in the Missouri area and hope to be in the Twin Cities area by the spring.”

Another participant in the health fair was the North Country Health Services, who was promoting their Biofeedback Program.

Julie Flathers, a nurse and certified Biofeedback Therapist, explained that biofeedback is a “treatment where you can coach people who have health complications such as pain, anxiety, and sleep disorders techniques such as proper breathing in order to get a relaxed response.”

She continued with an example. “For someone with anxiety, breathing through the diaphragm instead of the chest can help him or her reduce and treat it.”

Among the programs dedicated to BSU students such as the Beaver Fit Program and the Nursing Department on campus, the Student Center for Health & Counseling was also available.  Jacob Passa, the Health Education coordinator for BSU, shared the results of a recent survey given to over 13,000 random students from 17 different colleges and universities, including Bemidji State.

“Stress, drinking, and smoking can cause a decline in a student’s academic performance,”explained Passa. “In the survey, researchers from the University of Minnesota found a direct correlation between tobacco use and academic performance.”

He later stated, “I am not saying tobacco lowers grades, but there appears to be an association of the two.”

The researchers from the University of Minnesota determined that tobacco users “average more days of poor health, have a greater likelihood of experiencing poor mental health, and experience a higher blood alcohol content when they drink.”

Passa also shared results of only the BSU students.

“BSU students who use tobacco tend to have a higher rate of high-risk drinking compared to BSU students who are non-tobacco users, 61.5 percent to 21.8 percent, respectively.  Among all current smokers, 42.5 percent have tried to quit and have stopped smoking for at least one day in the preceding 12 months.”

Passa also stressed the importance of student health.

“A lot of students don’t realize health’s impact on their academic performance.  Studies show that a student’s health can determine how well they do in college and whether they stay in school.  Students that graduate from college are better in overall health.”

Healthy BS-U was sponsored by Hobson Memorial Union and coordinated by Jennifer Bamberger.   She was pleased with the success of the Beaver Fit program.

“The Beaver Fit Healthy Weight Challenge looks to be a huge success, as all slots available for students were filled,” said Bamberger. “The Beltrami County Health Department was on hand and offered free immunizations to the public. And our own Student Health Center offered reduced priced flu vaccines. Anytime you can reach out and help someone, I believe that is time well spent.”

When asked if she thought Healthy BS-U was a success Bamberger said, “Yes I do. Several people on campus and off, helped to make this a successful endeavor.”