When you went to college, did you gain or lose weight? Neither?

I remember I lost quite a few pounds in the first weeks thanks to suddenly being in the middle of Boston, where you walk everywhere, and living a half-mile from the dining hall, which served pretty mediocre food. That I tend to be one of those people who loses weight during big life changes or in response to stress didn’t help either. Studying nutrition has helped me learn to be aware and to not slack on self-care, but at 18, physical health tends to be the last thing on a person’s mind. Sinister laughter implied.

By the time I returned home for Thanksgiving, my favorite clothes were falling off me and I just felt off—not to mention completely unattractive. This was also when I stopped cutting my hair regularly, which is why I tend to think of undergrad as “Jess’ Scruffy Period.”

For better or worse, this is one of the only photos I have of myself from that year. Haha it was either gonna be that or one of my climbing a bunch of male audio students. Totally more innocent than it sounds, but still!

According to a new study, 90% of students do not experience the mythical 15-pound weight gain their first year of college.

Researchers Jay Zagorsky and Patricia K. Smith of the University of Michigan, Dearborn analyzed data on the weight of more than 7,400 college students and found that while students do gain some weight over in college (9 pounds for females and 13.4 pounds for males), it happens very gradually and is thought to be related to the fact that many students do not enter college as full-grown adults. These numbers are similar for individuals who do not attend college.

That said, there are various factors associated with college that promote weight gain, such as reduced physical activity, late-night studying (and not-studying), students having to adjust to “fending for themselves” at mealtime, and everyone’s favorite, alcohol.

The 10% of students who did gain at least 15 pounds their first year of college tended to be the heaviest drinkers, researchers noted.

So where does this deep-seated “Freshman 15” myth come from then? Researchers cite a 1989 Seventeen article. Go figure.

What do you think about the Freshman 15? Were you afraid of gaining weight in college? 

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to get the latest nutrition information, self-care strategies, and healthy living tips delivered right to your inbox.

Powered by ConvertKit