The Freshman Fifteen: Myth or Fact?



The “Freshman 15” was a cultural phenomenon that I had known about for years and fully believed. I wasn’t sure I would gain exactly fifteen pounds, but I was expecting my body to change for sure. Before coming to school, I avoided buying jeans that were super fitted because I was sure that in the coming months they would be too tight.

The people on campus I mentioned this to cited a similar sentiment. However, as months went on and my body didn’t change (except for added muscle, thanks PHED 1500 Group Fitness Sampler), I realized that none of my older friends went through giant physical changes. Is the Freshman 15 even real?

Well no. It’s not. Based on a study, it turns out that the majority of girls gain 2.4 pounds their freshmen year and boys gain 3.4. Less than 10% of the participants gained 15 pounds or more and a full 25% lost weight. The participants included freshmen-aged kids not in school, students at two year and four year universities, those who live on-campus and off and many other factors. They found that the only factor which had a noticeable effect on the weight of freshmen was heavy drinking, but even then it only added a pound on average to those who participated.

There are hundreds of articles out there telling you what to do, what to avoid and how to deal with this mythological Freshmen 15. The biggest reason you might be gaining weight is normal, human growth. At 18 or 19, most freshmen are still developing: our bodies haven’t reached their adult size yet.

If this is something you’re stressing about, don’t. It’s unhealthier to worry about your weight than to gain some. The most important thing is to listen to your body’s needs, treat it well and take care of yourself to the best of your ability, whatever that looks like for you.