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Dr. Susan Albers Headshot

Freshman 15: Fact or Fiction?

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A recent study from Ohio State reconfirms that the freshman fifteen may actually be a "myth." Can you hear a collective sigh of relief from students all over the country? This study indicates that on average freshman women gain 3.1 and men approximately 3.5 lbs. A smaller percent, approximately 10 percent of college freshman, gain 15 pounds or more. 25% of freshman reported actually losing weight during their first year.

The point is that weight gain is a very individual process. Sometimes people gain weight. Other times, they lose it. Students may experience a drop in weight because they no longer have access to a refrigerator 24 hours a day, have less money to spend on food, are eating mindlessly and are more active walking across campus.

Or, freshman might gain weight due to excess stress, unlimited buffets, late night dining, social eating and inactivity.

The point is that we STOP using the term "freshman fifteen." It's about time that we quit using this phrase. What's the harm? The term causes freshman a lot of anxiety. Also, talking about it can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Students may unconsciously (or consciously) eat more because they believe this is "normal." Worry about gaining weight can also trigger disordered eating habits such as restrictive dieting and binge eating.

Let's stop focusing on weight and start talking about eating healthy and more mindfully! The way students eat now can impact their health in years to come.

For more tips see my book, Mindful Eating 101: How to Eat Healthy in College and Beyond.

My NPR interview on this topic: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129839360

See Dr. Susan Albers' new book, But I Deserve This Chocolate: the 50 Most Common Diet-Derailing Excuses and How to Outwit Them. She is a psychologist for the Cleveland Clinic and author of five books on mindful eating including 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food and Eating Mindfully. Her books have been noted in O, the Oprah magazine, Shape, Prevention, Health etc. and seen on the Dr. Oz TV show. www.eatingmindfully.com

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The Freshman 15: fact or fiction?