Weight Gain At College
- Freshman Fifteen
Gaining Weight During First Year at College
Weight Gain At College
A popular notion is that incoming freshmen can expect to gain five, ten, fifteen or more pounds of weight by the end of their first year - college students call it the "Freshman 15."
One college weight-gain study conducted 15 years ago found that a sample of university women gained weight 36 times faster than women the same age who did not attend college. The university women gained an average of nearly seven pounds of weight during that first year.
Freshman 15 - A Weight Gain Myth?
However, a recent college weight-gain study suggests that the "Freshman Fifteen" weight gain phenomenon may be a myth. Researchers in Iowa tracked a group of freshmen women, monitoring their weight, body fat and attitudes about gaining weight at the beginning and end of their freshman year.
More than half of the students put on weight, but the weight gain was generally less than five pounds. More than a third of the students actually lost weight. The students who were most worried about the dreaded Freshman 15 were most likely to think they'd put on weight, even if they hadn't. The researchers say that the Freshman 15 myth is a potentially dangerous one because students may feel that weight gain is inevitable, turning the myth into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Possible Reasons for College Weight Gain
There are psychological, social and practical reasons why college freshmen are prone to weight gain.
Changing from one environment to another can be difficult. And many people tend to use food for stress relief.
Most teenagers move out of their parents' home for the first time in freshman year. Some move out of state, and all are meeting a whole new set of peers. With the stress of all this change, many students turn to food for comfort.
Social Influences for College Weight Gain
Food is also used to socialize. Pizza parties, midnight raids on vending machines, and other food-oriented activities are easy ways to develop a sense of community among students. Unfortunately, this type of social eating is usually done in addition to meals, which can add up to additional poundage rather quickly.
Another important factor is that freshmen usually eat on campus in the cafeteria. Meal plans typically offer unlimited buffet-style food, including desserts. This is a stress test for binge eating.
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