[YOUR HEALTH] The Dreaded Freshmen 15

By Yuna Muyinda
Health Blogger
St. Hope Foundation

The “Freshmen 15” is a term commonly used to reference the amount of weight that is usually gained by a college student during their first year of living on campus. There are many factors that contribute to weight gain including carbohydrate-rich food served in the campus cafeteria, increased usage of alcohol, lack of sleep, increased stress levels and decreased levels of exercise.

In most cases, freshmen living on campus are required to subscribe to some sort of meal plan. Meal plans usually range from about 15-19 meals per week which breaks down to about 2-3 meals per day. The meals are usually buffet style and are comprised of foods like burgers, fries, pizza, pasta, fried chicken, fajitas and of course desserts. These food are all generally loaded with fat and carbs and usually can cause weight gain.

Moving to away to college comes with a new found sense of freedom! In some cases, students tend to attend parties and on-campus events where alcohol is readily available. Alcohol is loaded with sugars and empty calories which can contribute to weight gain if not burned off.

Other factors such as lack of sleep, stress and decreased levels of exercise can also contribute to weight gain. Lack of sleep and stress can lead to over eating which in turn can also lead to weight gain. Due to loaded-down class schedules and mounting work loads, students often find it hard to set aside time to utilize campus wellness centers for the purpose of exercising.

There are several ways to prevent the dreaded Freshmen Fifteen. Some of those methods include:

  • walking to class rather than riding the shuttle
  • scheduling time to utilize fitness facilities like gyms and basketball courts
  • selecting healthier foods options in the cafeteria
  • watching the amount of alcohol being consumed
  • getting enough sleep.

With some behavioral changes, the chance of gaining excess weight while in college can be reduced.