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When I arrived here at college I was extremely disappointed with the selection of food here in the cafeteria. I frequently found myself eating only hamburgers and pizza over and over again, simply because I did not like the other choices. About four months into the school year I had do go to the doctor for a virus and when the nurse weighed me I was a little surprised by what I saw. I had gained a little over ten pounds, close enough to what some refer to as the "Freshman 15." It is a common fear among college students that they are going to gain fifteen pounds during the course of adjusting to college life. However experts have stated that the idea of the so called "Freshman 15," is not that accurate. Every college student is obviously not going to gain fifteen pounds. However I believe that it is possible and it is a problem for many college students. College life completely changes eating habits among college students.
Most students do not make the right choices about eating and exercising. College students across the country are severely unhealthy in their behaviors, and for some students the "Freshman 15" may be a reality. Experts who study the concept of the "Freshman 15" are deeply divided in their findings. Some downplay the significance of the problem of freshman weight gain, basing their findings only on the average weight gain among college students. In a study done by the Journal of American College Health, found that of the 59 percent of students who gained weight the average increase was only 4.6 pounds. They concluded their study by stating that they believed the Freshman 15 is a myth, based upon that premise (Graham, and Jones).
The truth is that fifty-nine percent of the students studied did gain weight, and not all students are going to gain exactly fifteen pounds. Other experts do however believe that weight gain among college freshman is a very serious problem. Registered dietitian Ann Selkowitz Litt recently authored, "The College Students Guide to Eating Well on Campus," which is designed to help college students make the right eating choices. On an online chat with several college students on USA Today's website she stated that "College students now are gaining the 'freshman 20' or 'freshman 25." She blames the growing problem on erratic eating habits, the drinking large quantities of alcohol, and the fact that students are not as physically active as they were in high school (Litt). Regardless of which experts are correct, college students are gaining weight. Perhaps the biggest factor that causes students to gain weight is the adjustment from eating at home to eating at college.
A student from Chicago State University wrote in the school paper that, "Students in their first year away from home are sometimes not experienced in choosing foods or balanced meals" (French). The free-for-all campus style eating allows for unlimited choices of food and no parents to tell students what they can or cannot eat. Dietitian Ann Litt is also quoted in a Washington Post article in stating that, "the all you can eat concept in most college food services is an invitation overeat" (Linder). College dining halls are set up like fast food restaurants, and some even contain a McDonalds or a Pizza Hut. Fast food style eating really has no nutritional value, other than lots of fat and calories. In an article which examined the ways which students eat nutritional professor Christina Economos stated that more than fifty percent of students are eating too much fat, and seventy to eighty percent are getting too much saturated fat.
She states that lack of fruit and vegetable consumption and the eating of mostly processed food is the main cause of weight gain among students (Linder). When students enter the dining hall they need to remind themselves that eating healthy is important.Another large contributing factor to weight gain is the lack of a consistent schedule, and strange hours for eating. Often times just sitting around and eating is considered a social activity on campus. Pizza is delivered to college campuses almost twenty four hours a day. For others eating is a way of dealing with the stress of college life. Doctor Elizabeth Somers states that, "if freshmen use food to soothe emotional needs instead of hunger, putting on fifteen pounds is quite possible" (Somers).
The sleeping schedules of students are also drastically different from in high school. In college most students are not going to wake up just for breakfast if they have no morning classes, so this leads to overeating at lunch and dinner. Washington Post writer Lawrence Linder states that one of the most important tips for college students is to, "have breakfast, no mater how late you wake up. A decent first meal makes you more likely to eat a decent second and third meal" (Linder). Another thing that leads to excessive snacking is the "real" social life of college students. Dr. Dean Edell states that, "keg parties play a big role in putting on the pounds" (Edell). Regardless of what people think binge drinking is a problem in colleges, and drinking leads to snacking.
Dietician Ann Litt believes that the frequent alcohol consumption triggers eating cues in absence of true hunger (Linder). Campus social and private activities are among the common causes of freshman weight gain.The biggest thing incoming college freshmen need to remember is that weight gain can be avoided. Students should choose a healthy diet and steer away from temptations to overeat. If they do weight gain can easily be avoided. Everyone seems to have different recommendations on how to avoid the "Freshman 15," yet there are several common recommendations on how to keep the pounds off. The first step is planning.
Doctor Elizabeth Somers states that, "people who successfully manage their weight have learned how to set realistic expectations and limits on themselves" (Somers). When students enter the cafeteria they need to know what they need to eat to fill their daily nutritional values. A good way to know those values is to record what you eat on a daily basis. According to doctor Somers if you log what you eat, "you'll identify situations that trigger inappropriate eating" (Somers). Those two recommendations truly do help student's loose unwanted weight. An interview with a fellow York College student who suffered from the "Freshman 15" during his first semester is living proof that planning and monitoring a persons daily food intake does help. Freshman stated that, "by using a program to record my daily food intake, I have gotten my diet in order and I have been able to loose about ten pounds" ( ).
He used the "Food-Wise" computer program to control and record his food intake. Incoming students should have no problem controlling their eating if they take the time to plan and record their daily food intake. Is it possible for college students to gain the "Freshman 15?" Absolutely, however incoming students must realize that it is not required. While all students on campus are not going to gain fifteen pounds, weight gain among incoming college freshman is a serious issue. Behaviors like erratic eating habits, the drinking large quantities of alcohol, and not exercising will cause students to gain weight. The crucial transition from home life to college life can be very difficult. Colleges and universities need to make students aware of the problems of weight control, and every college student should have to take a course in health or nutrition. Incoming freshman can protect themselves from overeating by recording their diet in some form or another. College freshman need to mindful of their diet, because if they are not careful the "Freshman 15" may become a reality.
Works Cited Edell, Dr. Dean. "The Freshman 15." abc7news.com. 4 Nov 2002. 18 Mar 2003. French, Sunny. "You Are What You Eat Provides to be True Theory." The Orion.
1 Mar 1995. Chicago State University. Graham, Melody, Amy Jones. "Freshman 15: valid theory or harmful myth?" Journal of American College Health. Jan 2002. Expanded Academic ASAP.
InfoTrac. YCP 18 Mar 2003. .Linder, Lawrence. "Eating Right; the Freshman 15 recalculated." WashingtonPost. 12 Sep 2000, Final Ed: WH9. 18 Mar 2003.
.Litt, Ann. The Freshman 15. 28 Aug 2001. USA Today. 12 Apr 2003. .Interview. "The Freshman 15." Personal Interview. 29 Mar 2003.Somers, Elizabeth.
"College Freshman can avoid the Freshman 15." CNN Online. 19 Aug 1999. 20 Mar 2003..
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