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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Study says freshman weight gain exaggerated

The dreaded “freshman 15” is nothing more than a myth, according to a new study.

The long-term study, performed by researchers at Ohio State University, followed almost 4,500 people through their college experiences and found that 90 percent of freshmen did not gain 15 pounds or more.

In fact, 25 percent of those in the study lost weight in their freshman year.

Just because the study found the freshman 15 to be a myth does not mean that some students did not gain weight. Researchers found that on average, females gained 3.1 pounds, while males gained 3.5 pounds during their freshman year.

Nevertheless, the study’s overall findings suggest that students need not worry about weight gain, said Jay Zagorsky, co-author of the study and research scientist at Ohio State.

“The punch line of this study is that if you are concerned about gaining weight in college, you shouldn’t be,” Zagorsky said.

The study also looked at weight trends in people of the same age group who did not attend college.

Females who did not attend college gained 2.5 pounds during this time, while males gained 3 pounds. Zagorsky said the half pound differences are statistically insignificant. He said the increase in weight found in all people aged 18-19 comes from their bodies adjusting from adolescence to adulthood.

Over their entire college careers, females gained 8.9 pounds on average, and males gained 13.4 pounds on average.

Zagorsky said two factors were statistically and practically significant to increased weight gain.

The first was heavy drinking. Zagorsky said those who consumed six or more drinks four times a month or more gained 1 pound more a year than non-drinkers.

“If you are concerned about gaining weight, don’t drink,” Zagorsky said. “You will put on weight (if you do).”

The second factor was working. Zagorsky said those who worked while in college gained one more pound a semester compared to those who did not work. He said this is because people who work usually spend their extra money on more food and drink.

Zagorsky said living on or off campus did not have a statistically significant effect on students’ weight gain.

“Most students don’t eat any healthier once they stop eating dorm food,” Zagorsky said.

The study also looked at whether students attended college part- or full-time, attended a private or public institution, and pursued a two- or four-year degree. All of these factors were shown to be statistically insignificant.

Students are still concerned with gaining weight in college.

Nathan Bowen, a freshman in the College of Engineering, said he started working out in order to avoid gaining weight.

“No one wants to be the one who gains a ton of weight, but it could be you,” Bowen said.

He said he thinks students gain weight because of their change in eating and drinking habits.

Trevor Cortez, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said he thinks stress causes students to eat unhealthy food, causing them to gain weight.

Katie Kemmerer, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, said her involvement in athletics helped her avoid gaining weight.

Kemmerer said she thinks the freshman 15 myth has been reinforced by freshmen who do gain weight.

“Those who do gain the weight notice,” she said.

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