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FRESHMAN 15: Tools to combat this weight gain are available.

Updated: Mar 20, 2022

As college students embrace living an independent life on #campus, they should be aware of the "Freshman 15". What is it? The notion that within a student's first year of college they will gain a whopping 15 pounds!

In reality, studies show a lesser gain: anywhere from one to about 6.8- pound average weight gain among college students within their first year, with no significant difference between genders.

That doesn't seem like much until you factor in the student's body composure, particularly looking at body fat percentage. For instance, if a student were to lose 10 pounds of #muscle but gain 10 pounds of fat the scale wouldn't reflect any change in weight.

A more realistic and beneficial approach to this issue would be to understand a possible scenario such as a student's body fat percentage going up, muscle mass going down. In this situation, the student could gain up to 15 pounds of fat with the weight on the scale increasing only five pounds.

There are multiple variables that could play a part in this transformation. Activity levels decrease; maybe high school sports were a big contributing factor in a student's activity level and the student isn't playing anything in college. Eating habits change: going from eating some home-cooked meals to primarily eating out due to the lack of knowledge about what foods to purchase and/or the ability to cook. Also, there are some #cafeterias that offer all-you-can-eat meals; #academic stress could lead to stress eating; the easy convenience of eating on or near campus; late-night studying leading to late-night snacks from the vending machines, etc. All of this illustrates that transitioning from high school to college promotes behavior and environmental change.

Tools to combat this fat gain are available. Keep healthy snacks nearby, drink a lot of water (stay away from sugary drinks), eat regular meals, stay active and get enough sleep (the body gets energy from sleeping and eating).



Jordon Coulter, NCCPT, is a certified personal trainer at Oak Park YMCA. Jordan has been with the YMCA since March 2017. Learn more about YMCA at

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