Freshman 15 Statistics
Campus Myth or Reality?

Freshman 15 statistics show there is some truth to the unwanted weight gain experienced by some students in their first year of college, but the actual amount gained is debatable.

Beat the Freshman Fifteen

According to campus myth, college freshmen can expect to pack on an extra 15 pounds by the end of their first year at college. (Thus the term "freshman fifteen.") This may or may not be true.

Here's the lowdown Freshman 15 Statistics:

  • One study of ~ 600 college students performed at Dartmouth College found average weight gain to be 3.5 pounds for freshman males and 4 pounds for freshman females.

    Note: The study relied on self reported weights!

  • A study from Rutgers' Cook College reported Freshman 15 statistics are "exaggerated." They studied 67 students and found average weight gain was only 7 pounds.

    Note: I don't think it's going out a limb here to say 67 students are hardly a fair representation of an estimated 1.5 million college freshman.

  • Researchers at Cornell University found most students gain an average of 4 pounds during their first 12 weeks of college.

    Note: Although this isn't a lot of weight, it's 11 times higher than the typical weight gain for 17-18 year olds!

  • A multi-year study by researchers at Tufts University in Boston, Mass., found men experienced an approximate 6 pound freshman weight gain and women experienced around 4.5 pounds.
  • Findings from the two largest and longest studies ever done on college freshman weight gain:

    • A study involving 382 students, funded by the federal government (at an unidentified school in the Northeast) found males gained 5.6 pounds and females gained 3.6 pounds, with the large majority of that weight gained in the first semester.

      Almost 20% gained 10 or more pounds during the freshman year, and 6% gained the "Freshman 15" or more. At the end of the freshman year, more than 17 percent were overweight or obese, compared to only 14 percent at the start.

    • The second study involved 907 students, 55 percent of them male, (at an unidentified public university in the Midwest) and was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

      Students gained an average of 7.8 pounds during the freshman year. More than 30% gained 10 pounds or more, and 20% piled on The "Frosh 15" or more.

Whether it's 3.5 pounds, 4 pounds, 5.6 pounds, 6 pounds, 7 pounds, 10 pounds or 15 pounds...

...the bottom line is that freshman weight gain is very possible.

The "Freshman Fifteen" becomes a living breathing reality for many college freshman.

Read stories of those who've become one of the Freshman 15 statistics.

It's not inevitable though!

Note: If you buy into the folklore and believe that college weight gain is unavoidable, the myth could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It's all up to you whether you experience freshman weight gain.

Understanding HOW and WHY the Freshman 15 happens is necessary in keeping it from graduating with you.

Beat the Freshman 15

Unfortunately the Frosh 15 isn't a chapter in any college nutrition textbook. So grab your pen and notebook and start studying here:

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