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College Freshmen Urged to Keep Excess Pounds Away

Dietitian says even small weight gain raises students' risk for chronic disease

SUNDAY, Aug. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Although the dreaded "Freshman 15" -- a reference to the pounds gained by new college students -- has been revealed by researchers to be a bit of an exaggeration, students should still take steps to avoid gaining unwanted pounds, an expert warns.

Kari Kooi, a registered dietitian at the Methodist Hospital in Houston, noted that most college freshman gain 3.5 pounds, but even a small weight gain should not be ignored.

"Everything from late-night eating, lack of exercise, increased alcohol consumption and an abundance of all-you-can-eat dining halls leads college students to pack on the unwanted pounds," explained Kooi in a hospital news release. She added that gaining weight in college puts students at risk for chronic disease, including diabetes and heart disease.

Kooi said that there are several cost-effective ways college students can eat healthy and avoid gaining weight, including:

  • Keep healthy snacks handy. Dorm room refrigerators should be stocked with healthy, satisfying snacks, such as fruit, string cheese, Greek yogurt, hummus and baby carrots.
  • Drink water. Too many calories from sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages can lead to weight gain. These drinks can also cause spikes in blood sugar that can increase hunger.
  • Stay active. Exercise plays a key role in staying fit and healthy. Boost your daily activity levels by walking to class, going to the gym or participating in intramural sports.
  • Eat regular meals. Skipping meals can lead to overeating and weight gain. Eating breakfast can also jumpstart your metabolism and help you concentrate in class and on tests.
  • Get enough sleep. Sleeping less than six hours each night can affect hormone levels that control appetite, cravings and metabolism. People who do not get enough sleep often crave high-calorie junk food the body can quickly break down for energy.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about college health and safety.


SOURCE: The Methodist Hospital, Houston, news release, July 31, 2012

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