WEDNESDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Although many college students are wary of gaining the dreaded "freshman 15," most only put on between 2.5 to 3.5 pounds during their first year in college, a new study shows.
And, the researchers noted, this weight gain is typical for all young adults -- not just those in college.
"The 'freshman 15' is a media myth," study co-author Jay Zagorsky, a research scientist at Ohio State University's Center for Human Resource Research, said in a university news release. "Most students don't gain large amounts of weight. And it is not college that leads to weight gain -- it is becoming a young adult."
Nevertheless, widespread concern among students over weight gain could have serious consequences for college students, the study authors noted.
"Repeated use of the phrase 'the freshman 15,' even if it is being used just as a catchy, alliterative figure of speech, may contribute to the perception of being overweight, especially among young women," warned Zagorsky. "Weight gain should not be a primary concern for students going off to college."
In conducting the study, the researchers analyzed data from more than 7,000 students who were surveyed in 1997 when they were aged 13 to 17, and then interviewed each year after about their weight and college status.
The investigators found that women gained an average of 2.4 pounds during their freshman year, compared to 3.4 pounds among men. The researchers pointed out that no more than 10 percent of college freshmen gained 15 pounds or more, and about one in four reported actually losing weight.
The study also revealed that the only factor that made a significant difference in students' weight gain was heavy drinking. But even those students gained less than a pound more than their peers who didn't drink as much. The researchers pointed out that another suspected cause of weight gain -- living in dorms -- did not increase the
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