The fall semester arrives with new students facing the prospect of gaining the infamous “freshman 15” as they learn how to settle into their new lives on campus.
The freshman 15 refers to the amount of weight most freshmen pick up over the course of their first year. The weight gained comes from a variety of factors such as late-night snacking, lack of portion control, heavy drinking and eating the wrong foods.
According to the BMC Obesity 2, an average of 70% of students gained weight during their first year on campus.
Juan Gomez-Marquez, a wellness coordinator and health coach at Church Health Clinic, said the freshman 15 is a serious and prevalent issue.
“I went out to eat every day,” Gomez said. “I was eating out constantly and I had access to more freedom and money then I was used to. I ate Chick-fil-A and Mexican food almost every day, and it really does add up.”
Gomez experienced weight gain as a freshman while attending college at the University of Memphis. He also said it is possible for students to avoid gaining weight by making healthier choices.
“You have two hands you can cook and eat the right portions,” Gomez said. “Even if you can’t cook, we have a Subway and access to clean water. Think about it; 15 pounds is a lot of weight. Go and grab a 15-pound weight and run with it. It is simply uncomfortable.”
From a medical stand point, Gomez understands the dangers of gaining weight for most students during one year of college. He said bad eating habits could cause diabetes, high-blood pressure, and obesity.
Incoming freshman Malik Gardner said if students don’t monitor the amount of food being consumed then it is possible to gain weight.
“The freshman 15 can happen to anybody if you don’t watch it, and if you don’t stay on top of that it will get you,” Garner said.
Garner said gaining weight as a freshman is inevitable unless people choose a better way of handling their stress while balancing college life.
One University of Memphis senior, Sejal Purohit, had advice for students experiencing college for the first time.
“You can avoid gaining excess weight by cooking,” Purohit said. “When you’re a freshman, you have a lot of time, and there is a Kroger right down the street from campus stocked with healthier alternatives. Also, stay away from the University Center.”