floor scale for weighing

Is There Really a Freshman 15?

floor scale for weighingMy first two years of college were paid for partially by a dance scholarship. As you might imagine, that meant dancing many hours a day preparing for competitions, pep rallies and halftime extravaganzas.

High-kickin’ and hip-hoppin’ for up to four hours a day meant that I didn’t have to worry about the dreaded “freshman 15.” Back then, I was thrilled to maintain my weight those first two years in college after hearing the horror stories of such weight gain. But it turns out, the freshman 15 is like the Boogie Man–not real.

In a study set to be published in the December issue of Social Science Quarterly, researchers set the record straight.

“There is no ‘freshman 15,’ ” said study author Jay Zagorsky, a research scientist at Ohio State University, in an interview with TODAY.com. “There are lots of things to worry about in college, but if you’re the average person, gaining weight is not one of them.”

According to the findings, the real average weight gain that first year away from home is 2 to 4 pounds. And that’s not only for college freshmen but for any young adult. More than 7,400 young adults participated in the survey.

To avoid that “freshman 2 to 4,” experts encourage young adults to:

  1. Get plenty of sleep.
  2. Focus on your food instead of mindless snacking while studying or watching TV.
  3. Make healthy food choices in the cafeteria and when dining out.
  4. Stay active. Do so by participating in your college intramural sports programs.
  5. Limit alcohol. And only drink if you’re 21 or over, and never when driving. (That last part was my two cents.)
  6. Dance! (Again, me.)