'Freshman 15' is real, but students
share how they got rid of it
By Jennifer Taylor
May 12, 2008 | As 18-year-old Tabitha Hill walked
through the door to her home in Sugarhouse after her
first semester at Utah State, her mother let out a huge
gasp. Hill looked quite a bit different then when she
left home several months earlier. Hill was a little
rounder than her mother remembered; she had started
to gain the infamous freshman 15.
"I bet I gained 20-25 pounds my freshman year
and it was all in one place, if you catch my drift,"
According to sideroad.com,
a recent study by Cornell University found that on average,
college freshman gain about 0.5 pounds a week.
Freshmen have endless opportunities to eat. From parties
to school events to meal plans at the university's cafeteria.
Since they're out on their own there's no one to tell
them to stop eating. "They don't have five different
entrees and five different desserts at home. . . . And
we know that the more variety people are offered, the
more they eat," says Leslie Bonci, according to USA
With no one telling them to stop, freshmen eat anything
and everything in their path. Some don't even know their
gaining weight at first; they just notice it or a family
member notices it and they freak out.
"When I was a freshman, I had the worst eating habits.
I don't think I was alone in this, I think most freshman
don't eat the best, there's just too much going on,"
said former freshman 10-pound-gainer Jennie Schmidt.
Eating is a social thing in college. People go to
dinner together, especially if they have meal plans.
Once they start talking and enjoying each other's company
there's no telling how much a person could eat.
"There's this place called the junction, and it did
me in my freshman year," said Hill. "It was such a social
environment you would lose track of what you had eaten
and just go get more so you can socialize with more
Not only are eating habits poor, but freshman rarely
exercise. In high school some students exercise and
they don't even know it. They participate in PE classes
and sports or go outside and play Frisbee with their
According to sideroad.com, "When students enter college
most of them leave organized sports behind them. These
students that were used to practicing five or more times
a week for hours at a time are now left with no accountability
to be active. Couple this with the hectic schedule that
most college students deal with and it begins to make
sense why most incoming freshmen don't even make time
to find the campus gym, let alone visit it regularly."
Former freshman Laura Brinton said, "There's so much
other stuff, more fun stuff, you can do with their time
then go to work out." She said there was never a dull
moment when she lived on campus and if she went to work
out she felt like she'd miss out something fun.
If freshman could just limit their caloric intake
and exercise a few times a week there wouldn't be as
big an issue. America is by far the fattest nation in
the world. According to American Sports Data 63 percent
of people are considered overweight according to the
Body Mass Index (BMI).
Luckily, the freshman 15 is not always a constant
hindrance, a lot people work most of it off before they
graduate. Gaining weight as young adults increases the
risk for becoming an obese adult. Once a person gains
weight, and loses it, it's easier for them to gain weight
"It's not that big of a deal that I gained weight,
it's just kind of annoying. All my life I haven't gained
anything, and then BAM! freshman year I gain a whopping
25 pounds, but mark my words before I graduate I will
be back to my normal self," says 20-year-old Bridget
Weight gain is not healthy. Gaining weight and especially
gaining weight fast both have numerous health risks.
Health risks include: diabetes, heart disease, high
blood pressure, high cholesterol and an increased risk
for certain types of cancer.
All in all, it's healthier to have never gained weight.
Incoming freshman should be aware that weight gain happens
and be willing to fight a big fight. It's hard to have
will power to not eat things that taste so good. By
doing this freshmen will reap the rewards of healthy
QuintessentialCareers.com gives some words of advice
to incoming freshman, "Get enough sleep, take your vitamins,
and eat right…Without mom or dad there to serve you
a balanced meal, you may be tempted to go for those
extra fries or cookies. Stay healthy and avoid the dreaded
extra ‘Freshman 15' pounds by sticking to a balanced
Setting realistic goals for nutrition and exercise
helps freshman keep the body they came with. For example,
a goal could be to only eat sweets three times a week,
or not to have soda except for on the weekends. Simple
goals like that could make a world of difference.
"Once I realized I put on 10 pounds I knew I
needed to do something different. I set a diet of 1,500
calories a day and worked out four times a week. Not
only did I look better, but I was also doing better
in my classes," said sophomore Sarah Jensen.
Even those who know about the potential weight gain
may still see an increase in pant size. Hill said she
knew about the freshman 15 before she came to college,
but she really didn't have goals set for herself.
"I just ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted,"
She said setting goals would have helped her to stay
healthier. Hill said she's been working really hard
to get the pounds off that she gained her freshman year.
She said her diet consists of salad, a light dressing,
a little meat and fruits and veggies.
"Occasionally I sneak in some chocolate," she said.
Hill's mom gives a sigh of relief as she see's her
daughter walk across the stage to receive her diploma
four years later. Hill had dieted, worked out and set
goals for herself and now fits into her favorite high
school jeans. She said, "Sometimes I wonder where
my butt went, but then I remember, 'Oh yeah, it's gone.'"