The oh-so-dreaded Freshman Fifteen: Catchy-titled myth? Fact? Scare tactic? The answer is a mixture of all three. While it is true that first year college students gain weight, research has shown the average weight gain to be about 4.4 pounds (Vella-Zarb, Elgar, 2010).
Why care? Weight issues as an emerging adult are predictive of weight issues as an adult. Other than poor diet habits and lack of exercise, college students may be gaining weight due to needed lifestyle adaptations as college students typically go from living at home to living on their own in a college setting.
You may be more at risk for weight gain during your first year if:
- Your new college habits consist of socializing with late night eating
- You live on campus and, thus, have easier access to a variety of unhealthy food in the dining hall(s) or food court(s)
- You are stressed
- Stress tends to result in an increased consumption of unhealthy foods as well as decreased exercise.
Here are some helpful tips:
- When eating at the food court(s) and/or dining hall(s), eat by color. The healthiest foods tend to be colorful.
- Take the stairs and encourage your friends to join you.
- When eating out late can’t be avoided, try to box up half your meal to save for a later date.
- Reduce the temptation of stress-eating by having healthy snacks and meals on hand.
How has the “Freshman Fifteen” myth affected your weight management behaviors in college, if at all? Do you feel like most people know about this myth and are aware of ways to limit excess weight gain during college? If not, how do you think awareness and information about this topic would best be spread? Let me know what topic you would like to read about next!
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