The Freshman 15: Do kids really gain 15 pounds during the first year way from home?

Posted at 3:48 PM, Aug 13, 2014
and last updated 2016-07-25 15:49:14-04

Most colleges start in the next week or two and for incoming freshman, college is a whole new world and one that can have a big impact on their health.  

That is where the "freshman 15" comes in: the amount of weight it's believed new freshman will gain their first year away from home.

Susie Akers, RD, LD of MetroHealth Medical Center said, "Their entire life is different. They're away from home, relying on themselves to develop their own schedules and routine, not only for eating but for activity and sleeping, and all those things can contribute to your metabolism and where you're finding your food and your meals."

But Akers say for most kids, the freshman 15 is not a reality.

"The good news is on average, adolescents going to college are not going to gain the 15 pounds. It's possible and some gain more. The average from the studies I've seen is 2 to 5 pounds a year," said Akers.

High fat foods are available around the clock in college which can also add to weight gain. When kids eat at college is also a contributing factor to their overall success.

Akers said, "They're not waking up and eating breakfast. They're up at the last minute and running to their first class. So they're missing that first moment of waking up their metabolism, by eating a balanced energy booster for the day. So then they're playing catch up all day long."

Kids also need to know before leaving for school that a good diet and sleep habits go hand in hand.

"Take care of you. Taking care when mom's not there to care of you includes getting a good night's sleep. Your metabolism and study habits will improve it you get a good night's sleep. Wake up and plan for healthy meals—breakfast, lunch and dinner—and a great stress reliever is actually hitting the gym," said Akers.