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Declare war on dreaded "freshman 15"
Alex Morales
Antelope Staff

Freshman Justina Snider, an undecided major from Beaver City, acknowledges the phenomenon of “The Freshman 15” and is making adjustments to her new lifestyle. “I have been working out more than I ever have before and I try to eat at the cafeteria instead of the fast food places downstairs,” she said.

The term refers to the phenomenon of freshmen gaining weight during their first year in college. The weight gains are real and long-lasting, according to research.

Information on, a Web site dedicated to college weight gain issues, says the 15 may be exaggerated, but freshmen do gain an average of five to seven pounds throughout their first year of college. The real problem is that anywhere from two to four of those pounds come within the first 12 weeks of school and much of the weight gain is still present at the end of the sophomore year.

How does this happen? Cindy Schultz, RN and Associate Director at UNK Health Care, blames an abrupt change in lifestyle for this phenomenon.

“Parents are no longer able to control a balanced nutrition, and once students become independent, an excessive intake of calories becomes one of the primary problems,” she said.

Schultz also pointed out that the nightlife is one of the major contributors to freshmen weight gain issues. “Alcohol is a huge contributor to the issue because of its calories and it is usually accompanied with unhealthy food,” she said.

Other factors that contribute to the abrupt change in lifestyle include late nights, awkward schedules and easy access to fast food.

According to research done at Cornell University, all-you-can-eat buffets on campus are the primary source for weight gain in college students.

According to Schultz this should not be an issue for UNK students.

“I have been to the cafeteria here on campus, and it is possible to make a healthy meal out of all the options,” she said.

Ariane Aten of Kearney, a freshman majoring in pre-dental, has a similar thought. “I try to eat at the salad bar and avoid all of the unhealthy options,” she said.

Exercising along with making healthier food choices at mealtime is a common technique for freshmen that are aware of the Freshman 15.

“Whenever I go to class I always take the stairs instead of the elevator to get as much exercise as I can,” Aten said.

Top 5 ways to avoid "freshman 15"
Make smart nutritional choices.
Avoid large portions of food.
Maintain a regular schedule.
Stay active, exercise a minimum 30 minutes per day.
Avoid alcohol.


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