Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fabled 'Freshman 15' Pound Gain More Often Only 5, Report Researchers

Date:
April 7, 2008
Source:
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Summary:
The "Freshman 15" -- the rapid weight gain believed to afflict many new college students when they begin school -- appears to be a bit of an urban legend: a cautionary tale often told but not well substantiated.

The "freshman 15" - the rapid weight gain believed to afflict many new college students when they begin school - appears to be a bit of an urban legend: a cautionary tale often told but not well substantiated.

Related Articles


Now a study of 36 freshmen at Auburn University - located in one of the states with the highest prevalence of obesity in the nation - reports an average gain of only 1.9 pounds during the first semester, with women gaining slightly more than men, and an average gain of only 4.8 pounds for the entire freshman year (with males gaining an average of 5.4 pounds and women gaining an average of 3.2 pounds). Some students lost weight. But even when only those who gained were considered, the average weight gain was 5.8 pounds, a long way from the often-popularized 15.

The 36 freshman (26 females and 10 males) were weighed and their body composition and shape measured when they began college and then again at the end of the fall semester and the end of the spring semester. The urban legend is correct in the sense that a majority of freshmen in the study (71.4 percent) did gain weight, notes Dr. Gropper, but only 21 percent gained five pounds or more. The largest gainers in the fall semester were a woman who gained nine pounds and a male who gained 10 pounds. For the academic year, the largest weight gains observed were 13 pounds for one male and 12 pounds for one female. No one gained the freshman 15.

Dr. Sareen Gropper and colleagues have begun a larger study of 240 students who entered Auburn in the fall semester of 2007. Like the pilot study, participants had to be between 17 and 19 years of age, not married, having no children, and without diagnosed eating disorders. At the end of the first semester, 68.7 percent of students had gained weight: an average of 2.1 pounds. Only 21 percent of students gained 5 pounds or more.

Among those who gained weight, the average was 4.1 pounds. Males gained an average of 4.8 pounds and females an average of 3.7 pounds their first semester at college. Seven students (3.3 percent) gained 10 pounds or more, but only one student gained at least 15 pound, a female who gained 16.2 pounds.

"It does happen," says Dr. Gropper, "even if not very often." She and her colleagues are following the 240 students throughout their freshman and beginning of their sophomore years, with questionnaires that examine factors that might contribute to the gain, however small, that the majority of college freshman appear to experience. The researchers also are collecting data on weight changes throughout the year, including five, 10, even 15+ pound losses within the first year of school.

Unique to this study, says Dr. Gropper, is the partnership with colleagues from Auburn University's Department of Consumer Affairs who use a 3-D whole body scanner to collect information on body size and shape. This technology quickly captures exact body measurements, which can be visually displayed in cross sections of body areas like the bust, waist and hips to show where changes occur in measurements over time. Understanding where weight is deposited on the body helps assess the potential risk of diseases such as heart disease and metabolic syndrome.

Dr. Sareen Gropper presented the study at the Experimental Biology 2008 meeting in San Diego on April 6. The presentation is part of the scientific program of the American Society for Nutrition. Dr. Gropper is a professor in the Auburn University Nutrition and Food Science Department. Her co-authors on the Experimental Biology presentation are Drs. Lenda Jo Connell, Karla Simmons, Pamela Ulrich, and Claire Zizza, along with two graduate students, Kelly Drawdy and Alisha Gaines. The study was funded by the USDA Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. "Fabled 'Freshman 15' Pound Gain More Often Only 5, Report Researchers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080406153357.htm>.
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. (2008, April 7). Fabled 'Freshman 15' Pound Gain More Often Only 5, Report Researchers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080406153357.htm
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. "Fabled 'Freshman 15' Pound Gain More Often Only 5, Report Researchers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080406153357.htm (accessed January 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Poultry Culled in Taiwan to Thwart Bird Flu

Poultry Culled in Taiwan to Thwart Bird Flu

Reuters - News Video Online (Jan. 28, 2015) Taiwan culls over a million poultry in efforts to halt various strains of avian flu. Julie Noce reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Bite Victim Making Amazing Recovery

Shark Bite Victim Making Amazing Recovery

AP (Jan. 27, 2015) A Texas woman who lost more than five pounds of flesh to a shark in the Bahamas earlier this month could be released from a Florida hospital soon. Experts believe she was bitten by a bull shark while snorkeling. (Jan. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shoveling Snow: How to Prevent Back Injuries

Shoveling Snow: How to Prevent Back Injuries

Washington Post (Jan. 26, 2015) What&apos;s the proper technique for shoveling snow? A physical therapist offers specific tips for protecting your back while you dig out this winter. Video provided by Washington Post
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Mistakes Should Serve a Lesson Says WHO

Ebola Mistakes Should Serve a Lesson Says WHO

AFP (Jan. 25, 2015) The World Health Organization&apos;s chief on Sunday admitted the UN agency had been caught napping on Ebola, saying it should serve a lesson to avoid similar mistakes in future. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins