The Weight Of College

Opinion: Avoid ‘Freshman 15’ Worries
The Weight Of College

As college freshmen go off to their first year away from home, they have so many things to worry about, like having all the things they need for their dorm, knowing where their classes are, saying their goodbyes and avoiding the “freshman 15.” There’s one thing on that list that could go away to give them one less thing to worry about: the freshman 15.

The freshman 15 is the belief that freshmen gain 15 pounds within their first year of college due to lifestyle changes.

Weight fluctuation with major life changes is normal and not something to stress about. Unless it reaches a medically dangerous level, gaining a few pounds should not be one of the stressors. With life changes, there are going to be physical changes. There are so many outside factors, like having to plan their own meals, ordering food in, partying and outside stressors like school.

A study conducted by PubMed Central found that 5% of freshmen in college gained 15 or more pounds. The majority of the freshmen gained 1-5 pounds or had no change at all.

For decades, diet culture has made college students worry about whether they are doing enough to prevent the freshman 15. Hyperfixation on avoiding weight gain can lead to eating disorders like binge eating, bulimia, anorexia and others.

Strategies to prevent eating disorders are acknowledging that “healthy” doesn’t have a specific look, participating in positive talk about food and not following strict diets, according to the BC Children’s Hospital.

From my perspective, I have worried about my weight my whole life, and it’s caused me to miss out on things like fun meals, wearing cute outfits and just having fun in general. The stress that is on people to avoid weight gain is unhealthy, and I am not immune to the pressure.

The belief in the freshman 15 causes unnecessary stress, which distracts people from their work and puts pressure on them to try and look a certain way when they should be focusing on school.

Weight is only a small part of who we are as people. Students worried about the freshman 15 should try to keep a routine, meal plan and cook at home as much as possible. But despite healthy habits, sometimes life happens and things change, but that doesn’t define us. 

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