College Myths Debunked: The Freshman 15? Not So Much

iehowAs college students, we are constantly inundated with new knowledge. It can be useful, thought-provoking, or crammed into our head on a Starbucks-fueled binge several hours before an exam. However, very rarely do we question the validity of all this new knowledge (unless you take philosophy classes, then you’ll question away).

That’s where College Candy comes in. We’re not going to debate whether or not the Theory of Relativity actually exists (a disappointment, I know, but I’m a communications major and stopped taking science classes after Baby Bio fresh year). However, we are here to thoroughly investigate the most widespread college knowledge (no, not rhyming): the myth.

Ah, the Freshman 15. This popular legend has spawned books on prevention, magazine articles in every Back-to-School issue of any teen magazine, and whispered reminders to your BFF as she’s eyeing that 3rd helping of French toast in the dining hall.

But does this phenomenon really exist? We’ve all gone home for Thanksgiving Break and seen that one friend who unfortunately succumbed to the Freshman 15; but what about your ex who still looks exactly the same (dammit!)? And the girl who got seriously in- shape? (I know paying for my own food was the best diet I ever went on). The Freshman 15 can’t be this metabolic death sentence we’re all doomed to once we start our higher education, right?

Right. A recent study demonstrated that over a period of 7 months, a group of 125 freshmen gained an average of 2.7 lbs.—not 15. Even more good news? Only half the students surveyed gained weight at all; 1/3rd maintained their starting weight and 15% lost weight.

Another study, done at Cornell, showed that Cornell freshmen gain only 4 lbs on average during their first year.

Thanks to a slight tendency to over exaggeration, this weight gain morphed into the mythical Freshman 15 we’ve all been warned about. While 2.7 or even 4 lbs sounds like nothin’ compared to a whopping extra 15 lbs. added, those pounds do add up, and if weight gain continues at the same rate, obesity could be a dangerous reality. And, compared to the rest of the population (aka those not playing beer pong and ordering pizza til 3 am on Tuesdays), freshmen gained 6 times more weight.

So while the Freshmen 15 may not be entirely true, the lifestyle changes that come with becoming a freshmen can definitely result in weight gain. So to avoid the Freshman 2.7 (4 if you go to Cornell, sorry!), pay attention to portion size, take advantage of your campus’s gym (or scenic jogging paths), stay away from late night snacking (put down the Jimmy John’s menu!) and remember, 12 fluid ounces of Natty Lite = 95 calories, so go easy on the keg stands.

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