November 6, 2012
One of the most prevalent stereotypes when entering college is the, “Freshmen 15”. Is it real; is it something that all guy and girl freshmen should worry about? I personally believe it should be the least of one’s concerns and don’t believe it’s actually real. I say this because it would require an extreme lifestyle change in the life of the student, and a continuation of the extreme lifestyle change throughout the year. To see if my belief in the mythic “freshmen 15” was correct, I looked at three studies; two of which examine freshmen weight changes and one that identifies perspectives and causes of weight gain for freshmen.
In the two studies investigating the freshmen 15 from a quantitative standpoint, student’s initial weights and BMI’s were taken down along with completing a questionnaire regarding their lifestyle habits. The results were similar to what I had predicted. In the experiment titled “The freshman 15—a closer look” conducted by: Gropper, Simmons, Gaines, Drawdy, Saunders, Ulrich & Connell, (2009) the average weight gain by the end of the year was 2.6 lbs. and BMI calculations increased by .4 kg/m2. Also, only 5% of the students involved in the trial gained 15 lbs. of weight. These same results were replicated in an experiment by: Mihalopoulos, Auinger, and Klein (2008) where the mean was 2.7 lbs. increase and only 5% of those involved in the experiment actually gained the “freshman 15”. Further more, in the results from the Milhalopoulos, Auinger, and Klein saw an “increase…between men and women but found no differences among sex or race” (Mihalopoulos, Auinger & Klein, 2008, p. 531). Meaning that no ethnicity is excluded from the typical weight changes experienced during most students’ freshman year.
Another factor that helps to minimize the “freshman 15” is the social comparison between students. “Comparison between individuals seems to somewhat fuel the weight concern and preoccupation, as weight or size is an easy measure of contrast” (Smith-Jackson, Reel , 2012, p. 17). This continuous cycle of social stress and awareness for student’s bodies causes both guys and girls to be conscientious of their body image. Also, the idea of the “freshman 15” is so established within society and publicized by the media that within Smith-Jackson and Reel’s research of…