Why do we gain weight at university?

Living in dorms...the FREEDOM of eating WHATEVER you want WHENEVER you want! Believing that studying really hard is burning those calories and that we deserve a treat after hours of working on assignments. Little do we know that it all accumulates and suddenly we have gained a few kilos without noticing! The transition to university, adjusting to the new environment, the pressures of exams, becoming independent, and living away from home doesn’t make it any easier :(

The Freshman 15! Ever heard of it? It is a phenomenon that refers to a claim that on average one puts on 15 pounds (6.8 kg) during the first year of university. The question is... Is that TRUE?

Unfortunately, there might be a tendency to gain weight as you transition from high school to university. In a meta-analysis of weight gain during the 1st year of university (2015) more than 30 studies showed that the overall pooled mean weight gain was 3 pounds (1.36 kg) over an average of 5 months. The majority of students gained weight during freshman year and these on average gained 7.5 pounds (3.38 kg). These studies indicate that freshman weight gain is an issue and YOU have to TRY not to fall into the trend, or else you will end up like me struggling in the next few years trying to lose those extra kilos in preparation for graduation or other important events.

The Main Causes of weight gain at university are STRESS & UNHEALTHY EATING! In a survey given to university students in Beirut-Lebanon, students reported that they rely heavily on convenience foods, takeaways, and fast food, with more than half of those questioned admitting eating convenience foods up to five times a week. What influenced students’ food choices were cost, ease, and speed of cooking. 72% of all participants have dealt with weight gain upon entering the university as shown below.

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Participants’ results were divided into males and females to see if there is any difference between them. Below you can see that majority of females have faced weight gain while there was less discrepancy among the males.

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In addition, 54% of students who reported weight gain, have gained 3-5 kg while 38% have gained more than that. This is very similar to what the “Freshman 15” is all about, as you can see the percentage of students who gained around that weight is significant and students must BE AWARE OF IT to prevent it!

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When the results of the survey were divided into which years students currently are at university, there was a consistent pattern shown below. At any year spent at university, the chance that a student has dealt with weight gain was more than 60% and the chances increased as the years increased and this may be due to several reasons listed below based on students’ responses.

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TOP REASONS WHY STUDENTS GAIN WEIGHT AT UNIVERSITY:

  1. Having restaurants around you is tempting (76%)
  2. Stress from studies (57%)
  3. Not putting health and weight as a priority (43%)
  4. Eating out because of not having the knowledge or skills to cook (41%)
  5. Feeling down about being away from home (30%)
  6. Not having time to cook (8%)
  7. Not having much time to exercise (2%)
  8. Availability of food in dorms (2%)

TIPS TO AVOID WEIGHT GAIN AT UNIVERSITY:

  1. Avoid eating while studying. Take some time out to just sit and eat. Don’t eat on the run.
  2. If you’re lazy to cook, then order a healthy choice ex. go for grilled instead of fried. (a post about healthy order choices will be up soon).
  3. If you have the time, do some healthy cooking (many quick recipes online).
  4. Do not skip meals. Eat at regular intervals.
  5. Watch portion sizes.
  6. Choose low-fat options when possible (especially dressings and condiments).
  7. Keep a supply of healthy snacks around (fresh and dried fruits, whole grain cereal, carrots, and apples).
  8. Get proper rest and sleep. You tend to eat more if you sleep late or overnight.
  9. Exercise on regular basis (walking to university/classes is not enough). Find a thing that you enjoy such as zumba.

TAKE CARE of yourselves & REMEMBER that it is NEVER too late to make a PINCH OF CHANGE!

For more visit www.pinchofchange.com <3

 

References:

-Daily Mail:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2438649/The-average-student-gains-STONE-year-university--main-reason-freshers-flab-stress.html

-University of Windsor- Weight Gain at University: http://www1.uwindsor.ca/nutrition/news/5/weight-gain-at-university

-Vadeboncoer, C. Townsend, N. & Foster, C. (2015). A meta-analysis of weight gain in first year university students: is freshman 15 a myth? BMC Obesity 2(22). DOI 10.1186/s40608-015-0051-7

Published by Pinch Of Change