For all students, college life comes with many changes and challenges students have to face mostly by themselves. Especially for freshman students, college can be a very stressful place at first. There is a popular myth that says: students who head off to college will gain approximately 15 pounds in their first year. They call this “The Freshman Fifteen”. The four main causes for students to gain weight on their first year at college are new eating habits, emotional eating, drinking, and not getting enough exercise.
One cause of weight gain on freshman year is the new eating habits students acquire. When students are in high school, their parents decide when, where, what, and how much their children eat. Parents determine the proper amount of calories their kids need to consume. Also they give their children a proper portion so they can have a balance diet. When students go off to college, they gain some freedom or independence they have not experienced before. Since they have no parents to tell them what to eat or cook for them, students have to figure how to feed themselves; with unlimited choices and limited cooking experience, their diet usually consists of fast food, soft drinks, pizza, etc. They replace fruits for chips or chocolate, vegetables for french fries or onion rings, dairy products with coke or energy drinks. Students over and under eat until they find a balance, but several weeks of this diet can cause a quick weight gain.
Emotional eating is another important factor for students’ weight gain. As stated before, students face great challenges in this stage of their life. These may include classes, new relationships/environment, or homesickness. Many people deal with stress or emotional stress by eating food, so students over eat even when they are not hungry just to fill an emotional void. The main reason is because when the body reaches a high level of stress, a stress hormone called cortisol is released, and it creates a craving for sweet and salty food. Food can take focus off every emotion the student is feeling and it is often used for this purpose.
In addition, college students drink alcohol and this contributes a lot to weight gain in