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'Freshman 15' May Be Just a Myth

Study Debunks Notion That Many College Students Gain 15 Pounds in Their First Year at College

Weight Gain in College continued...

And in theory, it made some sense. College may be the first time that some teens are fending for themselves at mealtime. If you factor in late-night pizza while studying, alcohol, and less physical activity, weight gain could occur.

"Temptation is there, but they are not packing on the pounds," he says.

"The study provides one more piece of support that weight gain in college tends, on average, to be no higher than that of young adults not attending college," Connie Diekman, MEd, RD, says in an email. She is the director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis. "It is a good reminder that several factors impact weight, including activity, and when college students decrease their activity from high school this will be a contributor to weight gain."

Making Good Food Choices

Lawrence Friedman, MD, says that college students do gain weight, but once again, no more than same-aged people who don't go to college. He is the director of adolescent medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

"Teens are not fully grown at age 17 or 18," he says. "We would expect growth and weight gain during these years that have nothing to do with college."

Still, the new study does not mean freshmen or other college students can become complacent, Friedman tells WebMD.

"Be conscientious about your choices," he says. "Remember that alcohol is high in calories and often consumed in addition to a meal, not in place of one." Alcohol also can take away your inhibitions and nudge you to reach for the phone to order that late-night pizza or make other unhealthy choices.

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