Most of us have heard this grave tale; some of us have even lived it. You are beyond excited to finally be away from your parents, able to do whatever you want, whenever you want. You eat the food you have been told to stay away from, and you eat it all the time. Of course, the gym is there, but you will go tomorrow. You never even consider that your weight is changing until you head home for Thanksgiving or Christmas and you hear those words, “Have you gained the Freshman 15?” It is easily a college student’s worst nightmare when it comes to their body image. But do we really have any cause to worry? Do the Freshman 15 actually exist or is it something made up by parents, health officials, and magazine editors to have us look exactly the way they want us to? To answer this question and ask some of my own I took to the streets, or the tables in this case, to ask students if this weighty subject really is that “heavy.”
As I rolled into the cafeteria, I saw the same things I have always seen: a huge buffet of somewhat questionable meal choices and not enough options for the health conscious. Could this be the reason we are getting heavier? I headed over to the nearest table to find out if they thought it was.
“Can I ask you a question? Do you think the Freshman 15 really exists?” There was absolutely no hesitation in answering. “Yes. Definitely. No doubt.” I moved on to the next table. Same question, same answers. The same thing happened at the next four tables I asked. Then I got a surprise. Going up to senior Kenny Belgrave, I posed the same question. “Do you think the Freshman 15 exists?” He thought for a minute, then replied, “Depends. I mean if you’re drinking every weekend then sure. You’re gonna gain beer weight.”
More people started giving me the “depends” point of view as I went around. Freshman Jackie Holmes took it even further.
“I think if you maintain the lifestyle you had before such as a sort out a strict schedule you’ll most likely stay the same,” said Holmes. “But if you radically change, like stay sleeping in till 12 or stop eating full meals, you will lose or gain weight dependent upon who you become while in college and what schedules you set for yourself.”
In the end, I asked one hundred people the Freshman 15 question. 40 said definitely. 7 said it is 100% myth and 43 said it all depends on the lifestyle choices you make once you get here. However, this answer did not seem to satisfy my curiosity, so I took my question to some of the major news outlets to see what they were writing as colleges around the globe start their fall semesters.
According to The Huffington Post, the Freshman 15 “is a lie,” while The Michigan Times reports that “one in four freshmen gain 5% or more of their body fat, averaging about 10 pounds.” Shocker? Not to everyone. Papers such as Central Florida Future and Iowa State Daily acknowledge that it exists but say its super easy to avoid by eating right and going to the gym.
When it comes down to the heart of the issue, it’s about self-discipline and staying active. Sophomore Ashley Williams said, “I don’t have a car so I walk everywhere, which helps me stay healthy.” However junior Sydney Covey laughed it off. “You see that right there?” she said. “That’s a gym. It’s free. So what’s your excuse?”