Tips for Parents
"WEIGHT"-Y CONCERNS: BEYOND THE "FRESHMAN 15"
The research shows that the "freshman 15" is more like 5-7 pounds, with an additional gain of 2-3 pounds during the sophomore year. While folks are happy to hear that the idea of the "freshman 15" is a myth, the trend of gradual weight gain could be even more problematic.
Two recent studies, one funded by the federal government and the other by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, measured weight gain among male and female students: the first spanned the freshman year and the second included the sophomore year. In both studies, students were weighed four times during the year — at the beginning of the school year in September, at the end of the first semester in December, after the holiday break in January and at the end of the year in May. Those who participated in the second study were also weighed at the end of their sophomore year.
The studies included more than 1250 students — 382 from a private school in the Northeast and 907 from a public university in the Midwest. Results indicated that males tended to gain more weight than females, with much of that weight gained during the first semester. For those who participated in the study including the sophomore year, results indicated that males were an average 9.5 pounds heavier and females 9.2 pounds heavier than when they started college.
Researchers continue trying to determine the reasons for this weight gain. Some possible explanations include more drinking, more socializing, eating higher-fat and greater quantities of food in the cafeteria, and less physical activity.
If this trend continues, students will be at risk for developing serious health problems — no matter what the reasons are for the weight gain. You can help offset these concerns by educating your student about how to eat healthfully and take care of his/her body.
Source: 'Freshman 15' Really 5 or 7, but the Gains Don't Stop on www.cnn.com, October 23, 2006.
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