The Truth About The “Freshman 15”

Ahh, “the freshman 15.” The extra little weight that you fear will ruin your otherwise lean teenage physique.

Here’s the real story…

Once upon a time, someone thought it would be a good idea to coin the phrase and scare all the nervous newbies into crash dieting and obsessing over his or her weight, before they even gained a pound at college.

Before you decide to do something unhealthy, or get yourself into some serious body image drama, here is the truth about the freshman 15.

It is not really 15 lbs: Not even close. A study done by the Social Science Quarterly, as reported by ABC News, concluded that college freshmen only actually gain a mere 2.5-3.5 pounds during their first year. In fact, one in four freshman actually lose weight.

It’s doesn’t have much to do with college: If you have been able to keep your body healthy and in good shape up until now, chances are, college is not going to change that. The same study, done by Social Science Quarterly, found that a college freshman only averages gaining a half a pound more than someone their same age that did not go to college.

The study also found that all the factors of college life, dorm living, full vs. part time status, and public vs. private institutions, made no difference in weight gain. The only factor that had a slight influence was heavy drinking, which increased weight gain, on average, by one pound.

Dieting is not the right solution: Going into something believing that it is going to result in you gaining weight can be very dangerous. If you fear that the pressures of your initial year of college will cause you to gain weight, remember, crash dieting is not the end-all solution. According to an article in “The Daily Beast,” the American Heart Association is reporting that, “since 2000, the number of college students dieting, vomiting, or taking laxatives to lose weight has jumped from about 28 to 38 percent.”

In reality, the calories that come from college food are not to be blamed entirely for anticipated weight gain, and these extreme measures are doing more harm than good. “Well-balanced caloric intake, with regular meals and physical activity—not dieting—is the best way to avoid obesity,” says Dr. Richard Kreipe.

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Lisa Manente

Lisa Manente

Lisa Manente is a senior at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. She will be graduating with the BA in Media Studies and Communications in May. Editing the Entertainment section for her university’s newspaper and magazine has fueled her passion for entertainment journalism, which is the career path she plans to explore. In her free time she enjoys reading, traveling, listening to music, and catching up on celebrity gossip.