Freshman 15: Myth or Reality?

My Bariatric Life Health Guide
  • dr. alice holland

    Dr. Alice Holland, Director of Student Health Services at Quinnipiac University 


    The "Freshman 15," is a belief that college students gain 15 pounds during their first year in college. However, evidence to support that is limited. So is the freshman 15 a myth or is it fact? Dr, Brian P. McDonough explored this with Dr. Alice Holland, Director of Student Health Services at Quinnipiac University, on a recent ReachMD podcast. The following is a synopsis of their discussion.


    Myth #1 The Freshman 15 is a real thing

    The average weight gain is only 2.7 pounds during that first year of college according to a study by the American College Health Association. Men gained more weight than women. 

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    Causes of College Weight Gain

    Students encounter a few big dietary changes when they go off to college that can result in weight gain. These may include the type and quantity of food they eat, ready access to that food, alcohol consumption, and long hours of studying with less time to exercise. 


    Additionally,  students can get involved with eating or drinking their feelings as a way to deal with stress. Some studies have shown that self-attitude towards your body can influence your eating patterns, whether it's to restrict eating or to indulge in more calories in an attempt to self sooth. 


    How to Avoid College Weight Gain

    Students should learn these key things:

    • How to navigate the all-you-can-eat cafeteria
    • Ways to maintain exercise and physical activity
    • How to keep up in new social circles
    • How to cope with stress 


    Two major resources available on campus include counseling services and student health services. Some of these centers are available to students 24/7. Services offered may include instruction on diet and weight loss, debunking the idea that less calories means weight loss, and providing studies that show students performance benefits of a nutritious breakfast. 


    The bottom line: College is an entirely new atmosphere and the student may need time to adjust and balance their new lifestyles. By the sophomore year the student should be better acclimated and enjoying the college experience. 


    The full podcast can be listened to on ReachMD.


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Published On: January 16, 2015