By Leigh Foith
The myth of the “freshman 15” is exactly that: a myth, according to a new study.
The researchers found that women gain an average of only 3.1 pounds their first year, and men gain 3.5 pounds. Surprisingly, 25 percent of freshmen actually lose weight.
Jay Zagorsky, the author of the study soon to be published in Social Science Quarterly, found that the average student has more important things to worry about than gaining the “freshman 15.” There are many factors contributing to weight gain because students are away from home for the first time with loosely monitored meal plans and a tight budget.
However, the study showed that these factors don’t influence weight gain very much.
“It didn’t matter if kids lived in a dorm or not, went to a public or private school, or studied full-time or part-time,” Zagorsky said.
Jordana Haught, a recent ACU graduate and ACU’s dining nutritionist, said she believes the freshman 15 is a possibility for some students.
“The term should be changed and updated,” Haught said. “Whether students gain a large or small amount of weight, lots of students’ bodies change in college.”
Haught also said although this study proves the “freshman 15” is a myth, students should still be mindful of what they eat. She recommends planning time to eat within a busy schedule, being mindful of late night snacking and taking advantage of the new varieties of food on campus.
The Bean offers free nutrition counseling (encompassing meal planning, how to make smart food choices and more) to any student who needs it, as well as nutritional information available on TV screens throughout the Bean.
The study also found the fear of the “freshman 15” encourages students to live a healthier lifestyle.
After reading about the study, Cayla Chastain, undeclared freshman from Coppell, said she’s relieved the myth isn’t true.
“That is something that so many people coming to college stress over,” Chastain said. “This study and the fact that we have a new Rec Center to stay active shows we don’t have a reason to worry.”