The Freshman 15, the idea that young adults in their first year of college gain approximately 15 pounds, is well-known and has been popularized in media – it was first mentioned in a Seventeen magazine article in 1989. But is there research to support the Freshman 15? No. College weight gain has been studied many times and the Freshman 15 is a myth.
The average young adult in college gains anywhere from 2 to 5 pounds and this is normal. Whether or not you’re a college student actually makes little difference – college-aged young adults gain weight even when not in college.
What does contribute to above average weight gain in college?
- Alcohol, especially binge drinking, can contribute to weight gain, especially as you are likely to make poor food decisions during or after drinking.
- Irregular eating habits – figuring out when to squeeze in meals around classes can be difficult, but if you can commit to a schedule and not skip healthy meals, your body will thank you.
- Snacking – eating regular meals will help with snack cravings but try to be aware of mindless eating, especially during studying or when you’re feeling stressed.
So, what does all this mean? You should be kind to yourself about small amounts of weight gain in college. Media has popularized being overly weight-conscious and paranoia over weight gain in college for both men and women. College is a stressful time and you will make choices that are not 100% healthy – that’s ok. It’s normal. Healthy eating, such as mindful eating, avoiding alcohol, and exercising can help you feel better long-term. All in all, try to not put so much pressure on yourself, especially regarding weight, and try to embrace the college experience mindfully - even the late-night treats!