The Dreaded Fifteen
Is freshman year weight gain a myth?
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012 16:10
Surely, we’ve all at least heard the phrase “The Freshman 15.” It seems to be one of those unavoidable, scary evils when entering your first year of college. It’s almost unfathomable to think that something that once was so easily avoided throughout high school suddenly would become so impossible to maintain. Does this unappealing myth even exist? Researchers are starting to say no.
Fifteen pounds is actually quite a bit of an overestimation. It’s more along the lines of three pounds, according to a study released in October of 2011 by Social Science Quarterly. Sounds like a bit of a relief, doesn’t it? Especially so when you consider the fact that students gain only half a pound more than their non-student counterparts during the first year out of high school.
The Social Science Quarterly goes into even more detail as to why we, as college students, gain the weight we managed to keep off as adolescents. Higher calorie foods, lack of sleep, higher amounts of stress, more caffeine and lack of physical activity are all contributions to why students gain weight throughout college.
Needing something quick, cheap and convenient to eat so you can pull an all-nighter for your test at 9 a.m. is something that becomes quite the “norm” during your years at a higher education institute.
College is a time of freedom, where one’s parents aren’t dictating almost every aspect of their life. You have the choice eat what you want and when you want. All of this freedom comes at a price, though. Taking part of everything that college has to offer takes up a lot of time.
Something has to get cut to keep up with all of it. Unfortunately, sleep is the biggest thing that gets cut. In fact, only about 10 percent of students feel that they get the adequate amount of sleep every night.
Students who sleep less often have to rely on high-calorie caffeinated beverages to keep them pushing throughout the day and they tend to exercise less than they may have during their high school years. Both of these things are factors that would lead to weight gain in anybody, not just your typical college freshman.
The biggest factor to weight gain in one’s college years, according to Social Science Quarterly, is the consumption of alcohol. In their study, they found that students who consumed alcohol regular basis gained more weight than the students who did not.
Nutritionists have found that alcohol has more calories per gram than any other nutrient besides fat. Those additional amounts of calories soon take a toll on the body.
So, for all of you freshmen, you can breathe a much needed sigh of relief. You probably won’t gain those frightening fifteen pounds this year. You can, however, make sure that this doesn’t happen by realizing that it’s important to adapt to a healthy lifestyle even with all of your new found freedom and responsibilities. If you’re going to drink, do it on occasion. Try to maintain the closest thing you can to a balanced diet, even with all the temptation around you. Take advantage of the Wellness Center that we all have to pay for in our student fees anyway. Finally, realize that gaining a few pounds isn’t the end of the world. Remember, college is a new and exciting time. You can enjoy it without having to make your body pay the price.
Cassandra is a sohpomore majoring in journalism.