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The Dreaded “Freshman 15”

The “freshmen 15,” as most of you know, is the common phrase for the weight gain some college students face during their first year away from home. There are many causes for the freshmen 15 —  but what are they? How can we prevent it? And is it even real? Or at least is the phrase accurate? These questions will be answered in our quest to understand the “freshmen 15.”

Weight gain during college comes from a multitude of variables: one can be a lack of exercise. This can be caused by not being on a sports team, not having the motivation or even anyone to workout with.

Overeating is another contributor, with many dining halls having an all-you-can-eat style of service. Having an excess amount of meal swipes may make students feel like they must use them up and eat more. For many students, this is the first time they truly decide what they’ll eat and when they’ll eat it, which can lead to eating out more and even malnutrition. Finally, another leading cause of weight gain is drug and alcohol use.

So, what can be done to combat these causes? If a lack of exercise is your problem, then joining an athletic club or health club is a great way to surround yourself with a group of people who want to work-out. Related to that, you can find a gym buddy — whether it’s a friend, roommate or classmate. But if that doesn’t work, you can even have a friend back home as a gym accountability partner and check up on each other to keep yourselves accountable.

Cooking your meals and meal prep is another step you can take— this way you can plan out what you consume and eat healthier because of it.

Going out, studying for classes, being a part of clubs or extracurricular activities and keeping up with friends and family back home can be a lot to balance and can be stressful at times and stress can lead to weight gain or even weight loss. While getting stressed can’t be avoided at all times, a good way to help yourself is by balancing your lifestyles and even making a plan and creating a schedule for yourself so you don’t become overwhelmed as much.

Now is the freshmen 15 real? Well the answer is: kind of. This conclusion is found through the use of the study “A meta-analysis of weight gain in first year university students: is freshman 15 a myth?” by Claudia Vadeboncoeur, Nicholas Townsend and Charlie Foster. They searched six databases using peer-reviewed articles with data from 1980 to 2014. In the 5549 students that were used in the pooled analysis, they found the mean weight gain was three pounds over an average of five  months, though most of the students (60.9 percent) gained about seven-and-a-half pounds.

This means that the weight gain during the first year is very exaggerated and gaining a few pounds is normal – just remember to keep your body and mind healthy and you should be doing alright.

Sean Laughlin is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies and minoring in MDC. SL918690@wcupa.edu.

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