college students · nutrition · Uncategorized · well-being

The Freshman 15-Truth or Fiction?

By Robin Quay, MS, RD, Sodexo Dietitian

We’ve all heard of the “Freshman 15”, the phenomenon where students leave home, attend college, and gain 15 pounds.  The term “Freshman 15” was first used in an article in Seventeen Magazine back in 1989. But does it really exist?

Studies show that, while about 1 in 10 freshman students will gain 15 or more pounds, weight gain in college students is varied. The average freshman woman gains about 2.4 pounds, while the average weight gain for freshman men is 3.4 pounds, according to a recent study in Social Science Quarterly. The study also reported that people between the ages of 18-24, in general, gain weight, whether they attend college or not. And, weight gain can occur during any year of college, not just the freshman year.  Over 4 years of college, women gain an average of 7-9 pounds, and men gain an average of 12-13 pounds.

 Poor diets, lack of physical activity and excess weight gain aren’t good for anyone-as they lead to an increased risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. Not only that, for most people, weight is easy to gain and challenging to lose-it’s better to just not gain it in the first place.

 College is a time when lifelong habits are formed. It also can be a super-busy, super-stressful and super-social time. Busyness, stress and enjoying being with friends can all lead to over-eating, which over time, can lead to obesity and the health complications that go along with it. Also, Americans are getting bigger, which means more students come to college already overweight.

 So can weight gain be prevented while you’re in college? Of course it can! With a little planning, there’s no need for students to be concerned with the Freshman 15.

Here are some tips to get you started:

It’s easy to overeat at all-you-can-eat and buffet style dining, like at Reber and Tilley. Check the menus online before you go at, and decide what you’ll eat before you get there. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, and limit fried foods to 1or 2 times a week. Try not to go back for seconds. It’s tempting to want to sample a lot of different items. Take just a small amount to try. Remember that another meal is coming and you can always try something different at the next meal. Only have one dessert.

Be active every day. This can mean anything from walking to class to going to the gym to participating in a sport. This helps burn the calories you ate, as well as keeping your metabolism going.

Get enough sleep. Studies show that lack of sleep and weight gain go hand-in-hand.

To learn more about good health and well-being, join our “Fit Flames” workshop. Our first meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 31 at the Reber-Thomas VIP room. You can e-mail to sign up.

 references and additional information:


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