What is the freshman 15 & is it actually a thing you should actually be worrying about?

Meal swipes are dangerous things


The fall semster is in full swing and you've tried everything in the dining hall twice. Weight gain is a major worry in the minds of new college students, but what is the freshman 15? It's basically the common belief that students will gain around 15 pounds during their first year in college. Is it a real thing though?

"Well, what’s not a myth is you gain weight," Dr. David Levitsky from Cornell University told us. "What is a myth is that it is 15 lbs." The good news is that the standard freshman 15 seems to be exaggerated, but that doesn't mean you should swing back through the ice cream bar in celebration. Dr. Levitsky estimated that the average student gains three to five pounds over the course of freshman year.

He explained that what's happening on university campuses is going on all around the country. "The students here… are constantly inundated by cues in their environment that say, 'go eat.' The dining services have increased enormously. The food is delicious. The way they present the food is fantastic and the same thing is happening in restaurants all across the world," he said. Essentially food is everywhere and it's too damn good.

Dr. Levitsky explained that the dining hall is a dangerous place. Once you swipe your meal card into the cafeteria, it's a total free-for-all. That's where people tend to load up on every yummy looking thing in sight. "We know from data," Dr. Levitsky said. "That the more food you put on your plate, the more you're going to eat and that leads to weight gain."

The freshman 15 might be over-the-top, but it's a symptom of a larger problem. There's a trend happening called age related weight gain. "You don't stop gaining after your freshman year," Dr. Levitsky told us. He said everyone is affected because we're surrounded by "stimuli" that make us want to eat.

Obviously you're going to have to face the dining hall some time, but it's all about how you chose your food. Don't run in when you're absolutely starved and load up your plate with food. Try to make controlled choices about what you're going to eat. Like Dr. Levitsy explained, weight gain is going to happen to some degree because our environment constantly stimulates us with food. Being mindful of your daily intake can make all the difference.