The tale is as old as time: Stepping onto a college or university campus comes with more than just the weight of hefty textbooks. As many may have experienced first-hand, the initial semester of college is usually accompanied by the fear of the dreaded "freshman 15" – a phrase coined for the assumed pounds that will be gained from mindless snacking, endless dining hall options and a decrease in physical activity compared to high schools years, according to The Atlantic.
The Truth About the 'Freshman 15'
As The Atlantic reported however, it is generally not likely that these new college students will gain 15 pounds. It is more likely that the first semester in a new environment with rigorous class schedules, new activities and lifestyle changes will cause students to gain closer to 2 1/2 to 6 pounds, according to research. Many individuals will continue to worry about weight gain during their college years though and for many, this concern is validated.
In a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, researchers from the University of Vermont found that these added pounds don't necessarily stop creeping up after freshman year. According to Science Daily, the investigators concluded that on average, college students will gain 10 pounds during the path to their four-year degree. Measuring body-mass-index and weight of students before their first and second semesters of freshman year and then again at the end of senior year, the mean weight increased from 147 to 157 pounds.
"The myth of the 'freshman 15' has been widely debunked," said Lizzy Pope, lead author of the study and assistant professor in the Nutrition and Food Sciences Department at the University of Vermont. "But our study shows that there is concerning weight gain among college students that happens over all four years they are in college."
Could this weight-gain during early adulthood lead to an increased risk of obesity down the road? And moreover, what other health risks arise with these added pounds?
Added Health Risks for College Students
The UVM researchers found that yes, there was a 78 percent increase in the number of overweight or obese students during the four-year study. The 23 percent of students who were already overweight or obese at the start of college had expanded to 41 percent of students by the end of the four years.
As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported, obesity carries the increased risk of a number of health concerns and diseases. Type 2 diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease are among the worrisome conditions that may result from weight gain. Those who are overweight are also at a heightened risk of high blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as a greater chance of some cancers, sleep apnea and osteoarthritis.
A Healthier Approach to College
Students concerned about gaining weight or increasing their chance of disease at university can help to reduce that risk by adopting a primarily raw, plant-based diet such as the Hallelujah Diet. Fueling the body with whole, natural fruits and vegetables helps to rid the body of toxins and promote healing again.