Author(s): Hoffman DJ, Policastro P, Quick V, Lee SK
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Abstract Students entering their first year of college are faced with many stresses and changes, including changes in eating and exercise behavior. A common but often undocumented myth among college students is that there is a high risk of gaining 15 pounds of weight during freshman year. The objective of this study was to measure changes in body weight and percentage of body fat among first-year college students. Using a digital scale with bio-electrical impedance, the authors measured height, weight, and percentage of body fat for a sample of students who volunteered to be weighed during a health assessment in the university dining halls. The authors sent e-mails inviting those same students to complete a second measurement in February of the academic year. Sixty-seven of the 217 students who volunteered for the health assessment agreed to undergo a second set of measurements in the spring. The mean change in body weight was 2.86 pounds (1.3 kg, SD = 4.0 kg), and the mean change in percentage of body fat was 0.7\% (SD = 4.0\%). For those students who gained weight only, the mean increase in body weight (as measured by body mass index, weight divided by height in kg/m2) was 6.82 pounds (3.1 +/- 2.4 kg) and percentage of body fat was 0.9 +/- 3.8\%. The authors found that the first year of college is a period in which weight and fat gain may occur. The exact causes behind these changes are unclear and warrant further research to plan or improve intervention and prevention.
This article was published in J Am Coll Health
and referenced in Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences