The horror of the freshman 15: fact or fiction?
Though many college freshmen pack on extra weight, lifestyle choices and eating habits make gaining the “freshman 15” optional.
According to a study by Ohio State University, college students are gaining weight, but 15 pounds is far from the norm. In the study, the average student gained 2.4 to 3.4 pounds each year.
The misconception of the “freshman 15” most likely stems from the typical collegiate atmosphere of drinking, stress and fatty foods.
UH nutrition professor Ann Svendsen-Sanchez said that she believes freshmen gain weight because of an “increase in alcohol calories with increased social life.”
Svendesen-Sanchez also said that students are prone to eating more and exercising less as a result of stress and lack of time management.
According to OSU’s study, focusing on anti-obesity campaigns and warnings may actually lower self-esteem and stimulate negative self-image among college freshmen.
“I was nervous that I would get (the freshman 15),” biochemistry sophomore Sheila Berenji said. “But then I started making my own food and I actually lost weight.”
Berenji said she believes that exercising, cooking for yourself and eliminating late-night eating will aid in maintaining a healthy weight.
The study done by OSU showed longitudinal analysis of weight gain before, during and after college was consistent with both college and non-college attendees. When compared with young adults of the same age, the study found that college freshmen only gained an additional half-pound.
Accounting junior Jesus Badillo was warned about the “freshman 15” in high school, but he said he found ways to disprove its relevance to college students.
“I would go to the gym or the Rec and do some sort of exercise on a daily basis,” Badillo said. “I think there are many different alternatives to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It doesn’t necessarily mean working out, running or lifting weights; it could be just taking the stairs instead of the elevator, pennyboarding or walking to class.”
The OSU study concluded that focusing on leading a healthy lifestyle debunks the “freshman 15” myth for young people. Being a college freshman does not determine weight gain. Choices in exercise and meals directly affect health, no matter age or college classification.