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Students need not fear the freshman 15


Thursday, October 09, 2014

You've  probably received a lot of advice during your college preparation, including a warning about the dreaded "freshman 15" weight gain. Changes in lifestyle habits and constant access to food can set the stage for this phenomenon among new college students. However, a recent study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that the freshman 15 may be an exaggeration.

Demystifying the myth
According to the research, students definitely gain weight in their first year at college but it is only a fraction of the feared 15 pounds. In fact, the average weight gained during all four years of school is actually just 3.5 pounds. Analysis of previous studies led researchers to conclude that the weight gain students experience may be the result of getting older, rather than lifestyle changes in college.

"Everyone puts so much emphasis on [that] first year of college," the study's lead author Michael Fedewa told Reuters Health. "But what we found from this study was the change in weight and body fat during the first year continues on and so we think that change in weight and fat is related to time more than anything else."

Maintaining your weight in school
While gaining 15 pounds throughout your college years is unlikely, changes in your sleeping, eating and general lifestyle habits could undermine your health. You already know how important eating a well-balanced diet, regular exercise and getting enough sleep are to maintaining your health. When you're at school, however, the issue could be that you just don't have enough time to eat right, hit the gym and get a full night's sleep. Consider these tips:

Reserve 20 minutes in between classes and activities to grab a healthy snacks or on-the-go meal. Keep yogurt, fruit, peanut butter and granola handy so you are sure to eat breakfast every morning. When it comes to working out, Seventeen magazine suggests sneaking it into your daily routine. Things like "toothbrush wall squats," where you hold a pose while you brush your teeth, or bringing your studies with you to the gym are ways to keep active without setting aside any extra time. You can also ride your bike to class or just park your car farther away than normal so you add some cardio to your day. And always aim to get a full eight hours of sleep every night.

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