Freshman Fifteen

Hey, freshmen – is college WEIGHING on you – literally?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Rumor has it – college students end their first year heavier, and not just in knowledge! But is the FRESHMAN FIFTEEN really a thing? 

Enter Yangyang Deng and team from the University of Georgia.

Over one hundred and fifty incoming freshmen weighed in. The students self-reported their physical activity and body mass index before and after their first semester. The researchers also examined factors that might affect the students’ motivation to exercise. Think: friend support and university facilities.

Results? Students gained around FOUR pounds on average — not fifteen! But WHY is weight gain so common in freshmen? 

The researchers believe it’s largely due to the lack of vigorous activity like running and swimming. Almost seventy percent of the students reported having had no vigorous exercise at the semester’s end! 

How do we help students get up and running? Peer support can boost activity levels, the team says. Schools can help by having more recreational activities at fitness centers. 

Instead of Freshman Fifteen, think: freshmen fighting fit!

Reference: Deng, Y., Hwang, Y., Campbell, S., McCullick, B. A., & Yli-Piipari, S. (2021). Institutional factors associated with college students’ healthy physical activity and body composition: A first semester follow-up. Journal of American College Health, 1–9.