The 5’2″ history student, who weighs 92 lbs., says she was forced by the student health center to attend weekly weigh-ins, counseling sessions and meetings with a nutritionist after her body mass index was determined by school health officials to be too low.
“I’ve always been small,” writes Chan, 20, in a piece for The Huffington Post. “My whole family is skinny. … I just don’t gain weight easily.”
According to Chan, her weight was flagged as a concern in September when she went to the university’s cancer center after detecting a lump in her breast. (It turned out to be benign.)
In December, she claims, a clinician told her that because she only weighed 90 lbs., she would be required to meet for weekly weigh-ins. The clinician also allegedly threatened to put her on medical leave if she did not comply.
“Every week I [tried] to convince my clinician that I am healthy but skinny,” Chan writes. But even after Chan’s family sent her childhood medical records and asked her family doctor to contact the university, Yale maintained that her low weight was a health risk.
Finally Chan tried to gain weight to get the university off of her back. “I asked my health-conscious friends what they do to remain slim and did the exact opposite,” she writes, adding that she gorged on ice cream, cookies and Cheetos, and took elevators instead of stairs. She gained 2 lbs., only to be told she needed to gain a few more until she reached 95 lbs.
Eventually, she decided to speak out. “I don’t have an eating disorder, and I will not let Yale Health cause me to develop one,” she writes on The Huffington Post. “If Yale wants to kick me out, let them try.”
Since her essay ran in March, Chan has heard from other students who have allegedly experienced similar treatment. She has recently been assigned a new physician who says that BMI is just one factor in determining a person’s overall health.
Yale University did not respond to a request for comment.