The “freshman fifteen” has become common lore for college students and a huge worry for many incoming freshman. The idea is that freshman students gain fifteen pounds during their first year at school. But is there any truth to this or is it all just a myth?
Ronda Bokram, a nutritionist at Olin Health Center since 1988, said that while the freshman fifteen may be a truth for some students, it does apply to the majority. She has dealt with students who believe in this myth for years and says that the freshman fifteen is more psychological than anything. [fat]
[food] “Most students are afraid of it before they get here,” Bokram said.
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s studies have shown that students who feared the dreaded freshman fifteen were likely to believe that they had put on weight even if they had not.
Senior biology student, Sarah Deforest said she shared this common fear of gaining weight.
“Everyone knows about the freshman fifteen, and everyone told me I’d get it,” Deforest said. “I think women stress about it more because it’s more socially acceptable for a guy to be overweight than a girl.”
But women are not the only ones stressing over weight gain. Nathan Fredrick, a finance freshman, said he thinks it is easy to gain weight.
“I didn’t think I would, but I put on a lot of weight in the first week,” said Fredrick. “The cafeteria food is just so good!”
Bokram says that students should not stress about weight fluctuations during their first year at college.
“The idea that you’re not supposed to gain weight after high school is ridiculous,” Bokram said. “Some weight gain is normal.”
She added that studies have shown that most students only gain three or four pounds over the course of their first year at college. For example, a recent study at Cornell University discovered that weight gain during freshman year is not inevitable. Some students may gain weight, while others may lose it.
Some students even notice a negative freshman fifteen. Supply Chain Management senior Adam Stibitz said he lost almost 15 pounds his freshman year.
Bokram said that during college the body is still going through many changes, which can cause some weight gain.
“It’s not fatalistic,” Bokram said. “It just takes time to adapt.”
“You come to college and you’re not in sports, calories are more accessible and pizza delivers until 4 a.m.,” Stibitz said. “It’s inevitable.”
The worst part about the myth of the freshman fifteen is that it instills the idea that weight gain is bad, Bokram said. She also said that the fear of weight gain, especially in women, is a very powerful thing. It’s myths like these that can lead to unnecessary dieting and eating disorders.
“It’s not about the food you shouldn’t eat,” said Bokram. “We have such a negative relationship with food these days, so have fun with eating.”
Stibitz agrees with Bokram and said that people should not worry so much about the food they eat.
“You’re healthier if you’re happier,” Stibitz said.
Bokram believes one of the biggest problems for freshman students is that they lose the daily eating pattern that they had at home. She suggests developing a routine again. A good guideline to follow is to eat within an hour of waking up and then every two to five hours after that.
If students are ever feeling unhealthy or feel they are gaining an irregular amount of weight, the best thing to do is to talk to a nutritionist. Olin Health Center offers free consultations. To make an appointment, call (517)-353-4660 or email Bokram at

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