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Freshman 15

Everyone remembers their first year of college: the anticipation of moving away from home into a new realm, meeting new people, experiencing new things and eating new food. But lurking somewhere in the back of everyone’s minds was the dreaded ancient curse: the Freshman 15. It is there for late-night ice cream binges, all those meals consisting entirely of chips or ramen and those guilty trips to the gym.

But does the scale actually say? Is there truth to the legend? Is the Freshman 15 fact or fiction?

Adjusting to a new lifestyle, new habits and a smorgasbord of new foods can be difficult. However, in order to actually gain 15 pounds, the amount of food a freshman would need to consume over the course of a semester would be about 1750 kcal per week. This would mean that in order to gain those dreaded Freshman 15, one would have to eat more than five full-sized meals per day.

Michelle L. Morrow and her colleagues conducted research in the 2004 and 2005 on a group of 137 women entering their first year of college. In the end, the study found that the largest weight gain was a total of two pounds, which applied to only a small percentage of the group. The majority of the sample group had either lost weight or maintained the same weight. Students who do gain 15 pounds within their first year of college are not the norm, but the exception.

So, although it is common to stay up late cramming or writing that paper you procrastinated on, the snacking you do while staying up late does not have a great impact on your weight unless the amount of food you consume is enormous. And no need to worry about heading to the cafeteria for an extra meal—unless, of course, you intend on eating enough for two people.

Ultimately, the “Freshman 15” has proven to be a myth. Nonetheless, remember that it never hurts to eat healthy and exercise often in order to ward off the unwanted weight.

Sources: http://www.obesitypanacea.com/2009/08/freshman-15-fact-or-fiction.html and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16988087

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