By Amanda Tonoli
The infamous Freshmen 15, the gaining of a noticeable amount of weight during one’s first year of college, haunts students on college campuses near and far, sitting in the back of everyone’s minds, threatening to wreck self-esteems — and waistlines. It has even been said that this weight gain extends further into sophomore, junior and even senior years of college as well.
It seems to hang over our heads, making us weary of how many pizza nights to splurge on and counting calories in our drinks on our Thursday nights out. The stress we put on ourselves worrying about this dreaded weight gain may be wasted — this weight gain is reportedly a myth.
In “The Origin of the ‘Freshman 15’ Myth,” published on Sept. 5, 2014 on theatlantic.com, Olga Khazan addressed the actual small fraction of first-year college students reportedly gaining weight.
“Just 10 percent of college freshmen gained 15 or more pounds, and a quarter of them actually lost weight,” Khazan said.
New students tend to take advantage — when available — of their campus gyms, taking part in the free or discounted fitness classes and socializing with other gym goers. This often contributes to weight loss. Also, it’s easier to get into a routine when you’re away from home and already have a routine with class schedules.
Beyond just getting into a routine, it’s also easy to stay in it with the help of friends and student initiatives given by wellness programs at universities.
The threat of spring break and non-beach-ready bodies are additional encouragement to get fit and drop whatever weight students gained because, let’s face it, who wants to go to Panama City Bay and show all of what Renee Zellweger called her “wobbly bits” in the movie “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”
Khazan also reported comparisons of those in school and those who chose another path when it came to gaining weight post-high school graduation. The findings were actually quite similar, regardless of their life choices after.
“The increase seems to be a natural part of adulthood, not something unique to dorms and dining halls,” Khazan said. “College freshmen gain just half a pound more than people their age who don’t attend college.”
So it’s not necessarily poor eating habits in college that affect weight gain — it’s just part of getting older.