Weight Gain Haunts Students

Highlander Staff Reports, Reporter

Now that mom and dad aren’t around, students can feast at all hours of the day or night. Brown- ies for breakfast? Chips and salsa at 3 a.m.? Why not?

While these makeshift meals or face-stuffing-sessions with friends may seem like fun during stu- dents’ first year on campus, they come with repercussions.

The infamous Freshman 15 may be at least partially a myth, but it’s a new college experience students don’t want to gain.

The common term represents a weight gain that many newbie collegians pack on during the first year at college.

First year Emily Ousouljoglou doesn’t think the weight is inevitable. Ousouljoglou said it depends upon how students eat, where they eat and what they do to stay active.

The one-swipe, all-you-can-eat option in the cafeteria can be dangerous for many, but not for Ousouljoglou.

“I really don’t over-eat. I just eat my normal portions.”

According to Connie Diekman, M.Ed, RD, LD, FADA, the Director of University Nutrition at Wash- ington University in St. Louis and president of the American Dietetic Association, 15 pounds
is more of an average, rather than a realistic number. She says that some students can gain more than 15 pounds while others will gain much less.

A great way to stay healthy is to look at the cafeteria menu before- hand, choose foods and eat only that to avoid the temptations of variety in the cafeteria, according to Anita Yurek, staff nurse at the Health and Wellness Center.

Sometimes the temptation wins, though.

First year Donya Forst chose a meal plan featuring 190 meal swipes and $100 in Cougar Points. She says the food choices offered in the Cougar’s Den are more appealing than those in the Metz Dining Hall. By fall break, she
said she already had to add more money to her swipe card to use in the Den and had a number of meal swipes remaining.

“The Den is more convenient in between classes and it offers more choices than the dining hall,” Forst said.
The Den features an array of sandwiches and wraps along with pizzas and burgers – more com- fort food than family style.

While Forst hasn’t experienced signs of the dreaded Freshman 15 thus far in her collegiate career, she did know of the term before arriving to school.

“I heard about it but I never really worried about gaining weight,” she said.

Yurek said many first years do gain weight and her staff sees more bulge-battling as the years go on.

“It’s a time of transition for freshmen because a lot of them are away from home. They have new stresses and social and academic stresses that play a big role in weight gain,” she said.

According to Yurek, peer pressure surrounding food choices contributes to weight gain. Not getting enough rest can play a role, too, as can lack of hydration. In other words, students abandon the healthy habits of home life.

“Students can take advantage of the gym, maybe take a roommate or a buddy who will go with them, and that might offset some of that weight gain,” said Yurek.

Diekman believes the common term only relates to first years because it is an adjustment period and new students are just getting into the swing of things.

“As kids move through their college years, they learn how to schedule themselves so they understand when and what to eat even though food is available all the time and their weight levels off,” Diekman said. “By the time most females reach senior year, they have cycled to the weight they were when they entered col- lege. Boys don’t physically mature until later, so they tend to weigh more when they graduate college than they did when they started as freshman.”

Yurek said students are welcome to visit the nurse for advice on other health issues.

Even if it is a myth, students adjusting to college should take into consideration the freshmen 15 – or 10, or 5 – and understand the risks they face, Yurek said.

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