The truth behind the Freshman 15
Everyone’s heard of the infamous Freshman 15. The 15 pounds students are expected gain during their first year in college have been a part of American culture for as long as anyone can remember. However, there are many conflicting studies and statistics about whether or not the Freshman 15 actually exists, and whether overeating, unhealthy choices or binge drinking contribute most to weight gain.
There are many studies out there that attribute the Freshman 15 to a variety of factors. In addition, the percentage of students as well as the weight they gain varies by study normalized for students across the US. For example, Health Magazine sites a study that states 70 percent of students, by the time they graduate, gain weight.
This weight gain is also not only muscle, as many people may believe. The amount of obese students changed form 18 percent to 31 percent.
However, studies published by Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism have said found that the average student only gains from 2.5 to 3.5 pounds, and have accused the media of inflating statistics and creating the myth of the “Freshman 15.”
In addition, studies have found that the myth of the Freshman 15 arose not because of a large average weight gain, but because a small percentage of students that gain a large percentage of their body weight. Webmd’s statistics back this claim, saying that while the average weight gain for a study of 159 students was less than three pounds, much of this average was attributed to 23 percent of the students who gained more than 5 percent of their body weight.
These statistics are also confirmed by a study done by Ohio State University, who showed that the average student gained around two to three pounds. However, this study also looked at more specific factors that affected this weight gain. When the study looked at students that were in college and other non-college students the same age, the weight gain stayed the same.
In addition, they found that the only factor that heavily influenced the amount of weight a person gained was heavy drinking. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s research, as alcohol drinking increased, scores on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey decreased.
They found people with the healthiest diets where the ones who did not consume alcohol at all, or very infrequently.