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Students react to freshman 15

By Max Morris, Staff Writer

The term drilled into all first-year students causes emotional turmoil and self-confidence issues that can and will spread to other parts of their life. But what exactly is the freshman 15 and why is it such a nationally concerning issue for college students?

Thrillist, an online lifestyle website targeted to young adults, tells us that the term originated in a “Seventeen” magazine in 1989. “Seventeen”’s target audience was primarily female, and the editors were aware that any article containing weight loss tips would bring forth magazine sales. The article detailed 15 ways in which students would be able to “beat” the pounds that “Seventeen” claimed they would gain in their first year of college. While the term was created as catchy wordplay that would grab an audience in order to sell more magazines, it has turned into a cultural issue that strikes fear in incoming collegiate students. 

With the term ingrained into incoming college students, many reported concerns about weight gain in their first year of college. The struggle to maintain a healthy diet and start your independent life is a difficult task, and not one that many are able to figure out in their first semester. The stigma behind weight gain during freshman year of college can cause students an even higher stress level than what many first-year college students already experience. 

Regardless of whether the phenomenon is true, college itself is not the only cause for weight gain, as there are several factors for first-year students that may influence a fluctuation in weight. For instance, students must familiarize themselves with living alone and independently. The home-cooked meals students once knew and loved are gone, and many are now faced with the task of not only living on their own but learning to eat on their own.

Many universities provide students with an array of food, mostly buffet-style in large quantities. Although universities attempt to provide healthy food for students, the food is produced in such a massive quantity that it becomes increasingly more difficult to make in a healthy manner. 

According to students at Post, Aramark, which caters food to all students at the university, does not do the best job at providing healthy options for students. Senior forensics major Eric Nazario gives insight into the options students have.

“If the school provided healthier and more appealing options, then maybe it would be easier for students to eat healthy, but every day it’s pizza and pasta and the daily meals are never good. Not only that, but the only healthy option we have daily is the salad bar where the vegetables are wilted half the time,” Nazario said.

Sophomore business administration major Gina Symes echoed Nazario’s frustration with food on campus. 

“ Honestly there aren’t enough healthy food options on campus. I’m a healthy eater and value fitness as part of my lifestyle. I often find myself rotating between the same few meals every day. These being, different types of protein salad and chicken and tofu dishes from the “home cooked” station,” Symes said. “It’s enough to get by but barely. I’d love to see a smoothie bar or some sort of whole wheat wraps or anything involving avocado.” 

The issue lies primarily with students who dorm at school rather than those who commute. People who commute still have the option to eat at home and have healthy meals provided to them by their families. 

“Home-cooked meals from my mom are made with fresh quality ingredients as opposed to the frozen, bland food that the school offers. Meanwhile, you pay exorbitant amounts of money for a meal plan and they offer too few options,” said sophomore finance major Joseph Dowling.

Not only do students at Post claim to be disappointed in their meal choices while dorming, but the students who dorm rather than commute have an increasingly difficult time finding healthy options while at school.

Junior accounting major Banu Bokhari commutes to campus and feels the dining options are unfair for many dorming students because they have fewer options. 

“If [students] are dorming especially instead of commuting [they’re] only able to eat what’s provided to them. Not only that, but most of the food that they sell at these universities is basically fast food so it’s almost out of the students’ control. As a commuter, it’s easier for me because I’m not stuck with the same choices every day.”

Symes’ shift from home to dorming has affected her eating and lifestyle.

“My eating habits haven’t changed since arriving at college, but my options are much more limited than when I was home. Healthy eating makes both my mind and body happy and that’s why I like to stick to it,” Symes said. 

Students today are familiarized with the term freshman 15, however there isn’t much research to back up this phenomenon.  Scientific evidence says that there is not only a serious rebuttal to the phrase but a completely different reality than that which is fed to students.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine provided a journal published in 2008 where the findings are more than just a rebuttal, but a completely different result than what the unhealthy phrase insinuates. Out of 125 students who were analyzed in their first year of college, the average weight gain was only 2.7 pounds. About half of the students gained weight and 15 percent of students lost weight. 

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