College students do gain weight during their years on campus, new research from Ohio State University has found, but at nowhere near the levels that are notoriously associated with those first years away from home. The average student gained between 2.5 and 3.5 pounds during their freshman year, the study reports, but college-aged teens who are not attending school gained only a half pound less, leading researchers to associate weight gain with young adulthood, not the college experience.
The study -- which used data from 7,418 young Americans who participated in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 -- also found that women gained an average of 2.4 pounds (about one kilo) during their freshman year, while men gained an average of 3.4 pounds (about 1.5 kilos). No more than 10 percent of college freshman gained 15 pounds (6.8 kilos) or more -- and a quarter of freshman reported actually losing weight during their first year.
Yet, college students did continue to gain weight steadily while in school, with women gaining between seven and nine pounds (3.17-4 kilos), and men gaining between 12 and 13 pounds (5.4-5.9 kilos). But the researchers noted that dorm living was not in fact to blame, debunking the myth that unlimited buffets and lack of parental supervision resulted in weight gain.
"The 'freshman 15' is a media myth," said Jay Zagorsky, co-author of the study, of a common catchphrase in the US regarding weight gain in your first year of college. "Most students don't gain large amounts of weight. And it is not college that leads to weight gain -- it is becoming a young adult."
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