The rumored freshman 15 weight gain may be a myth.
A new Ohio State University study found that incoming college students gain on average between between 2.5 and 3.5 pounds, and 25 percent of freshmen lose weight.
The study, which began in 1997, looked at more than 7,000 young adults in the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean and Europe. Participants who went to college only gained marginally more than those who didn’t.
Jay Zagorsky, the researcher who conducted the study, said he became interested in the subject when he saw a postcard advertising OSU’s health club to students, telling them to come and lose the freshman 15 at its facilities.
Zagorsky, who also teaches at the university, said he wondered how serious the freshman 15 really was.
“They didn’t look any different in September than they did in May,” he said of his freshman students. “They come up and complain about lots of things, their grades, homework, their roommate, but no one said, ‘Oh my god, my clothes don’t fit, I have to run out and buy new clothes.’”
In the future, Zagorsky said he hopes to refine his research, finding more data and differentiating between students who gain fat and those who build muscle.
For Aryn Daughtery, a senior health, nutrition, foods and exercise major, controlling her weight gain wasn’t difficult when she entered college. She is also a trainer at McComas Hall.
“I think it differs case to case, I lost weight coming to college,” she said. “But I think there’s
definitely a lot of people who do the drinking and the dining halls and gain weight, but it’s easily controllable.”
The study also found that heavy drinking is a major cause of weight gain for incoming students.
“Watch the drinking, watch the foods you are eating at the dining halls, make good choices for balanced meals, and stay away from the pizza and the pasta,” Daugherty said.
Hannah Hallgarth, a senior HNFE major who works as a receptionist at McComas, said she also lost weight as a freshman.
“It think (the freshman 15) exists, but it’s definitely not for everyone,” she said. “And I think it’s less common than you actually think it is.”
Hallgarth said weight gain may be more of a problem for older students.
“They start getting in that older period where it’s harder to lose weight and keep it off because their metabolic rates are changing,” she said.
But Lauren Cabral, a junior environmental research management major, said she feels the freshman 15 is a real problem for some students.
“I feel like they’re given the opportunity to eat whatever is available to them as opposed to home, where their parents are providing food,” she said. “A lot of that is not exactly healthy food, and they don’t necessarily have the time to exercise much.”
Alice Ann Mahoney, a senior Spanish and philosophy major, said students shouldn’t use the freshman 15 as an excuse for weight gain.
“I know some people take the myth or saying (of the) freshman 15 as leeway and a excuse to let go of themselves, or
drink as much as they want, and not workout,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a myth for all people; I think it’s very individual.”