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Study Finds College 'Freshman 15' More Like Freshman 2 to 3

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“The ‘freshman 15’ is a media myth."

By now, this year's freshman undergraduate students are well indoctrinated into college culture. But has all the stress, abundant cafeteria food and/or obscene consumption of high-sodium Ramen noodles helped them pack on the notorious freshman 15?

A new nationwide study says no. It finds the freshman 15 -- the long-referenced amount of weight a young co-ed can expect to put on during his or her freshman year -- is just a myth. Additionally, the study found that whether or not you go to college had little affect on fresh-out-of-high-school weight gain.

According to the Ohio State University news release, the average freshman only gains between two and three pounds. And compared to peers not attending college, the weight gain difference is only a half a pound.

“The ‘freshman 15’ is a media myth,” said Jay Zagorsky, co-author of the study and research scientist at Ohio State University’s Center for Human Resource Research, in the press release.

But college students, and those entering adulthood in general, are not out of the water. Zagorsky says the real weight gain happens as youth progress into adulthood. Steady weight gain during college years was recorded but even four years of total weight gain amounted to less than 15 pounds. On average, men gained 12 to 13 pounds while women gained seven to nine.

“College students don’t face an elevated risk of obesity because they gain a large amount of weight during their freshman year,” Zagorsky said.

“Instead, they have moderate but steady weight gain throughout early adulthood.  Anyone who gains 1.5 pounds every year will become obese over time, no matter their initial weight.”

Heaving drinking and working in addition to going to college were reported as having a stronger correlation to weight gain compared to other factors such as living in a dorm or not.

The research of 7,418 young people -- data for which came from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth that interviewed people between 13 and 17 each year from 1997 onward -- revealed that a fourth of students actually lost weight after entering college.

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