One long-standing assumption about new students entering college each year as freshmen is their propensity to gain weight -- on average 15 pounds over the course of their initial year in college. As it turns out, a new study pokes holes in that assumption and goes on to point out the truth about freshman weight gain.
A study by research scientist Jay Zagorsky from Ohio State University's Center for Human Resource Research debunks the myth of the "freshman 15," stating that the average weight gain is between 2.4 pounds for women and 3.4 for men. In total, no more than 10 percent of all college freshmen who were examined in the study actually gained 15 pounds. Some even lost weight.
The results of this study were published in Social Science Quarterly. The study pointed to aging and becoming young adults as the culprit behind the weight gain, not necessarily the late-night pizza study sessions or cafeteria grub. The study also looked at same-aged people who were not in college, and most gained the same amount of weight during the period of time they could have been college freshmen.
While students may not gain 15 pounds their freshman year, college-age people do gain about 10 to 12 pounds over the four-year school period. Again, this is attributed to natural body changes associated with moving from adolescence into adulthood.
Students concerned about weight gain in excess of the 2 to 3 pounds per year can employ these strategies to keep weight gain at a minimum.
* Limit alcoholic beverages, which tend to be high in calories and add weight fast.
* Plan for some daily exercise, even if it's just strolling the quad.
* When selecting foods from the cafeteria, fill half of your dish with vegetables and then a quarter with whole grains and a quarter with lean meat whenever possible.
* Limit consumption of packaged, processed foods, which are high in salt and calories.
* Go sparingly on drive-thru foods.
* Keep healthy snacks on hand in your dorm room so you won't have to head out when hunger pangs strike.
* Utilize the campus gym if there is one.
* Take a class as part of your electives that includes physical activity, like a sport.
* Surround yourself with friends who have like-minded fitness goals.