The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Freshman 15 the least of students’ worries

Forget about the “Freshman 15.” New research suggests college students should be more concerned about the “Junior Jiggle,” followed by the “Senior Supersize.”

This month, Indiana professor Jeanne Johnston published research suggesting that students actually gain more weight in their upperclassmen years than their freshman year.

This is because physical activity decreases as students get older, Johnston said in an Indiana University press release. Johnson teaches in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at IU.

“As students get older, they walk less and use buses to go (from) one side of the campus to another,” Johnston said.

According to the research, freshmen spent an average of 684 minutes walking each week, whereas seniors spent only 436 minutes walking. This was recorded by using pedometers, which measure how many steps a person takes in a given period of time.

The release stated other significant differences between freshmen and seniors were found in moderate physical activity, vigorous physical activity, BMI and time spent sitting.

“Students gain weight based on what they eat and drink and because of a lack of sleep. … It is the first time students are responsible for leading a healthy lifestyle,” Johnston said.

“It is the first time they have to manage their time and make time to exercise. It is a critical point in their lives.”

Marquette Assistant Professor Olga Yakusheva also conducted research on the topic of weight gain in Marquette freshmen from the past year.

Yakusheva, who surveyed over 1,000 freshmen students last year, found that the average weight gain among Marquette freshmen was only 1.65 pounds, dispelling the “Freshmen 15” myth.

“We had a pretty wide range, with some students gaining as many as 50 pounds and some losing as many as 50,” she said. “But overall it was nowhere near 15 pounds on average.”

Yakusheva said a variety of factors influence weight gain. She said in college, like in the general population, weight gain happens because people do not exercise, which, coupled with unhealthy eating and drinking habits, is a recipe for extra pounds.

Yakusheva said the findings of Johnston’s studies reflect “common sense.” 
Yakusheva agreed with the findings, saying her study found that students coming to Marquette are up to two times less likely to exercise than they were in high school.

The causes of weight gain are complex, however. Yakusheva found that weight gain is also influenced by the habits of roommates.

She found that women with heavier roommates actually gained less weight on average than those with thinner roommates — a half-pound versus two and a half pounds.

She said this may have had to do with the heavier roommate watching her weight and influencing the other.

John Sweeney, director of recreational sports at Marquette, said the Rec Center is not able to keep track of what class students are in when they swipe their I.D.s, but does not estimate a big disparity among use between classes.

“Our survey reports and general attendance figures over the years does show that more students are working out and more often, compared to five to 10 plus years ago,” Sweeney said.

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