The "Freshman 15," the notion that students gain 15 pounds during their first year of college, may overstate students' actual weight gain, according to researchers at the University of Guelph, Canada. In a sample of 116 first-year female students, the average weight gain was 5.29 pounds.
While the students reported gaining less weight than the "Freshman 15," the researchers point out: "It is important to recognize that the increase of 5.29 lbs. occurred over a period of just six to seven months...Weight gain at this rate over an extended period of time could lead to overweight/obesity and is certainly cause for concern."
The students completed a dietary assessment using diet and lifestyle questions adapted from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (Canada) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
The study found students reported increases in their body mass index from an average of 22.3 to 23.1; average percent body fat went from 23.8 to 25.6; and average waist circumference increased from 30.27 to 31.25 inches.
The proportion of participants with BMI measurements classified as either normal or underweight decreased from 79 to 75 percent and from eight to six percent, respectively. The proportion of students who were classified as overweight (BMI above 25) increased from 15 percent to 22 percent, while those who were obese (BMI at or above 30) remained constant at 3 percent.
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