If you have been on a college meal plan, you have been warned about the “freshman 15.” Unlimited food, as much dessert as you can fit on a tray (or two) and best of all, no parents to stop you from stuffing yourself. It all sounds great until you’re out of shape and struggling to hike up the campus hills that you used to traverse with zero problem.
A new study shows, however, that students aren’t just putting on weight during their freshman years—they’re putting on a full 10 pounds.
Researchers at the University of Vermont recruited approximately 100 students coming into their freshman year to participate in a weight tracking study. The researchers recorded the students’ weight and body mass index four times throughout the duration of their freshman year, and then again before they graduated. The average weight increase reported was 10 pounds, gained over the course of four years.
The results showed that about a third of the weight gained—around 3 pounds—was put on during the students’ freshman years. However, the remaining pounds were usually put on later in college life.
Lizzy Pope, the author of the UVM study, released a statement claiming that “these findings suggest that health practitioners should not limit their programming to just that first year, but extend it over all four years of the college experience.”
The findings stress the importance of the idea that healthy living should be encouraged throughout the entire journey of college. If students develop bad eating habits during their first year, it is going to be difficult to change routine and adopt a healthy lifestyle later on in college, as well as in post-graduation life.
Being in college, young adults are prone to weight gain. Staying in shape is a matter of taking your lifestyle into your own hands and consciously making healthy choices. Whether that means eating a recommended dosage of fruits and vegetables daily, or getting 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times per week, each student should look for ways to incorporate boosting their health into their everyday routine.
Photo: Nazareth College, CC-BY
Elizabeth Chambers is a health intern with Paste and a freelance writer based out of Athens, Georgia.