Study finds ‘Freshman 15’ is actually 2.7

| Staff Reporter

Many college students are all too acquainted with the phrase “Freshman 15.” But according to a recent study on freshman weight gain, the Freshman 15 may be just a myth.

According to the Journal of American College of Health, the average weight gain in colleges across the country was found to be 2.7 pounds. In addition, only about half of the college population gains weight. On the other hand, a surprising 15 percent of students actually lose weight.

“The Freshman 15 perception is not a reality,” said Connie Diekman, director of University nutrition. “Studies have shown that while some students do gain weight in college, the majority are within roughly 5 pounds.”

Sophomore Xinxing Liu says she does not believe in the Freshman 15.

“Obviously, coming to college, I was told about the  Freshman 15,” Liu said. “But it was definitely not something that I was worried about.”

“The important message that Freshman 15 conveys is that college can cause students to gain weight,” Diekman said. “Sometimes, the weight gain does not necessarily happen in freshman year, so students still need to be aware of weight gain after their freshman year.”

Sophomore Kevin Levine said he is remaining conscious of his food choices even into his second year of college.

“For me personally, it is the amounts of food options on campus that is quite different from home,” Levine said. “This expanded freedom to choose what I want to eat means a greater responsibility to eat healthier.”

Diekman attributes the weight-gaining phenomenon in college to several factors, including students eating more frequently, making incorrect food choices and alcohol consumption.

“Alcohol plays quite an important role in the college weight-gaining trend,” Diekman said. “Not only does alcohol itself contain hefty calories, it also lowers the blood sugar level, inducing the drinker to consume higher-calorie food.”

Additionally, Diekman noted that females usually experience a metabolism shift between the ages of 17 to 19. This means that most female college students will at some point in their college careers switch to a slower metabolism.

Healthy living on campus

Washington University Dining Services says it is doing its part to keep students healthy.

“In developing our menus, we provide a good mix of lean proteins, whole grains, low fat and low sodium sauces,” said Cathy Causey, director of South 40 operations for Washington University Dining Services. “As a general rule, Bon Appetit’s stand is to include a large variety of healthy options, as well as taking typical menu staples and making them healthier by including whole grains, avoiding trans fats and using healthier fats, such as extra virgin olive oil and yogurt in place of sour cream.”

In addition to taking advantage of these food options, many students are taking matters into their own hands to stay healthy and avoid falling victim to college weight gain.

“I run on a daily basis, in part to stay healthy,” Levine said. “I really like the added fruit options at the South 40 dining locations. There are more varieties of fruit compared to last year, and they are also serving smaller fruit-salad bowls, which are a big hit for me personally.”

“I try not to overeat each meal and to avoid junk food as much as I can,” Liu said. “I also take physical education class here at Wash. U. to stay in shape.”