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Freshmen 15: Myth or truth

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We have all been there…ordering a large pizza, thinking you’re going to save some for tomorrow. Then, 15 minutes later you realize you ate the whole thing. Or, you're sitting down to watch a movie with a tub of Ben and Jerry’s only to find moments later you’ve reached the bottom. 

The "freshman 15" is a belief that during the first year of college, students gain 15 pounds due to their eating habits, new social life and adventures away from home. 

But is this true? 

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The term freshman 15 is not an actual scientific phrase. It was introduced in 1989 by Seventeen Magazine with an article titled “Fighting the Freshman 15." From there it took off. 

Now, when you look up the term, there will be a flood of results relating to tips and tricks to not gain the weight, ways to eat healthy on a budget and creative dorm room meals.

In 2008, researchers conducted a study on freshman in the northeastern area of the United States who lived on their college campus. The researchers used an online survey to collect information about the student’s social behaviors and their weight. The results did not support the claim brought on by this media myth. The students, on average, gained about 2.7 pounds. About half of the students surveyed gained the weight, while 15 percent of them lost weight. 

Darien Bakas

The study also found that, on average, college students slowly gained weight throughout their years. Between the first day of freshman year and graduation day, women gained between seven and nine pounds while men gained between 12 and 13 pounds. The only consistency between the weight gain relationship was the increased intake of alcohol. Students who had six or more drinks more than four days each month were about a pound heavier than their friends who did not drink as much. 

I believe we use the term Freshman 15 as an excuse to eat poorly and not exercise. Freshmen believe that they are bound to gain the weight and therefore don't try to prevent it. 

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At the university, we are lucky enough to have a recreation center with many options for fitness. For people struggling with where to start with working out, there are fitness classes such as yoga, boot camps and cycling. There are also options to work with a one-on-one personal trainer. If participating in a class is not your style, the “do it yourself” method is available with two floors of machines. 

There are also many healthy food options around campus which accept the student meal plan. Located in the Student Union, Nrich is a market which aims at supplying organic and fresh fruits, vegetables, nut butters, juices and healthy snacks. My favorite restaurant, IQ Fresh, is also located in the Student Union. They have affordable wraps, gyros, salads, fruit bowls and smoothies. Core located in both the Student Union and the Park Student Union. It is a Chipotle-style restaurant but for salads, omelets and stir-fries. The options for fillings and toppings include proteins, fresh vegetables and fruits and many choices of dressings. 

With all of these options available, the Freshman 15 should be the last thing students are worrying about. With a healthy diet and moderate exercise, students are bound for success. 



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