Is the “freshman 15” just a myth?

In Health & Lifestyles on November 14, 2011 at 8:24 pm

By: Kristen Hegel

            Most seniors here at Fort Mill High School are preparing to begin their first year of college next fall. The stress of school and a heavy workload often leads to bad habits, such as unhealthy eating. Many future students fear the phenomenon known as the “freshman 15,” where first year eating habits cause students to gain weight, but new research may in fact debunk the popular myth. 

College freshmen should focus on school work and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet, not gaining weight. Photo courtesy of Google images

           What most people know as the “freshman 15” may now just be the “freshman three.” According to researchers from the Ohio State University, who gathered data from 7,418 and aged 17-20, the average amount of weight gain during the year was 3 pounds, one-fifth of what most people expect to gain. Researchers concluded that the average college freshman gains roughly 2.4 to 3.5 pounds. Throughout the course of four years in college, women gained an averaged of 8.9 pounds and mean gained an average of 13.4 pounds. Though, 10 percent of students gained fifteen pounds or more, results also showed that 25 percent of students actually lose weight.

             The study also found that people who did not attend college only gained half a pound less than those who did attend college. Meaning, college has almost no affect on the amount of weight you gain. “The freshman 15 is a media myth,” Jay Zagorsky, co-author of the study, said. “Most students don’t gain large amounts of weight. And it is not college that leads to weight gain – it is becoming a young adult.” Young students will steadily gain weight throughout young adulthood as a part of the growing process. “Weight gain should not be a primary concern for students going off to college,” Zagorsky stated.

           “The weight gain is commonly a product of not having the usual boundaries and schedule set by the home and after high school activities,” Richard G. MacKenzie, associate of pediatrics, said. “Once away from home, these routines have to be re-established in surroundings laced with new temptations – teen-tasty high caloric foods, partying, alcohol ingestion with associated calories and dietary inhibitions.”

            “If we are aware of the risk of any behavior, we are in a better position to prevent it,” MacKenzie, who believes the “freshman 15” can help promote health awareness, said. College freshmen should focus on school work and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet, not gaining weight. Don’t let the “freshman 15” scare you, instead use it as motivation to stay healthy.


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