Is the Freshman 15 Just a Myth?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
You’ve probably heard of the dreaded “Freshman 15”, the weight many college students typically gain when making the transition to life on their own.  It’s easy to see how weight gain is possible for some students:  dining halls with lots of unhealthy food choices, increased alcohol consumption, more time spent studying and less time spent exercising.  Even with these changes, I always thought that 15 pounds sounded like a lot.  Of course there are some who gain more, some who gain less and some who don’t gain any at all.   But a new study says that the Freshman 15 is really a myth, with the typical weight gain being much less.
The study, published in the journal Social Science Quarterly, found that freshman gain an average of 2.5 to 3.5 pounds in the first year of college.  It found that noncollege people of the same age also gained, although it was about a half-pound less.  As you could expect, heavy drinkers gained more and those who had a job gained less.   There were no significant differences between income levels or those who lived on or off campus.  In general, a small amount of weight gain seems common at this point in life. 
Even though the Freshman 15 might be a myth, it can still be a struggle to make healthy food choices and exercise regularly when making this transition into adulthood.  SparkPeople’s College Living Lifestyle Center is full of helpful information to get you (or your loved ones) on the right track.  Establishing healthy habits early on makes it easier to continue them long-term. 
Did you gain weight when you went to college (or just at this point in your life)?  If so, why?  If you have loved ones who are headed to college (or you are in college yourself), how are you helping to establish healthy habits and avoid unnecessary weight gain?