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Every incoming college student dreads gaining the freshman 15. But the collaboration between BU Dining Services and the Sargent Choice Nutrition Center, as well as visiting chef nights and special themed meal nights, guarantees an ever-changing menu of fresh and nutritious options. Add to that the large number of phys-ed classes and intramural and club sports offered through the Fitness & Recreation Center, and there are plenty of resources on campus designed to ensure that students stay healthy and fit.

The University’s efforts to maintain a healthy and active campus have not gone unnoticed. Greatist, an online health and fitness media start-up, recently ranked the 25 healthiest colleges in the United States and awarded BU the number 19 slot.

Citing such things as Sargent Choice’s popular oatmeal raisin cookies, “lobster night” at the dining halls, and the dozens of physical education classes offered each semester, Greatist found BU to be one of the top colleges “committed to creating the best environment for leading a fit, healthy, and happy life.” Who wouldn’t be happy with cookies and lobster?

According to Stacey Zawacki, a Sargent College clinical assistant professor and director of the Sargent Choice Nutrition Center, that’s exactly the center’s goal: to make eating not just healthy, but also appealing.

“For new students, healthy eating is as simple as looking for the Sargent Choice label at BU dining locations across campus,” says Zawacki (SAR’98, SPH’13). “We offer a wide range of delicious healthy foods and present them with nutrition tips to help students customize their own healthy meals.”

The success of the Sargent Choice program is palpable. Last year, an estimated 27,000 people visited the Sargent Choice blog, and the center sponsored more than 1,400 individual and group nutrition counseling sessions. An additional 1,100 students attended custom seminars, and more than 200 completed one-credit nutrition classes or attended Sargent Choice Test Kitchen sessions, says Zawacki.

“Every year, we listen carefully to student feedback and have wonderful support from BU Dining Services, Student Health Services, and athletics for expanding and enhancing Sargent Choice Nutrition Center food and education programs,” she says. “We wouldn’t be surprised to see BU’s ranking climb to number one.”

Olympic size swimming pool, Boston University Fitness and Recreation Center, BU FitRec

Students slice through FitRec’s Olympic-size lap pool. Photo by Kelly Davidson

Greatist also cited the more than 7,000 BU students who participate in intramural and club sports as another reason why the school made its top 25 list.

“Intramural and club sports appeal to so many students because they provide an opportunity to be active while developing not only physical skills, but leadership and team-building skills as well,” says Scott Nalette, intramural and club sports manager at FitRec. Nalette believes that these skills, coupled with the lifelong bonds that students establish with their teammates, are what make intramural and club sports among the most popular programs at BU.

Greatist researched more than 100 colleges and universities in compiling its list. The process begins with nominations from readers via social media, as well as reader suggestions following last year’s list (BU did not make the list last year). The Greatist team, which receives more than three million unique visitors to its site each month, then scours the internet for buzz about schools with outstanding food, fitness facilities, health services, and happy students and reviews student surveys from College Prowler and the Princeton Review, along with each school’s website, to help narrow the list down to 25. Bowdoin, Stanford, and Virginia Tech led this year’s list.