The Freshman 15: Is it Stress Related?

Anyone who’s ever attended college or has been remotely close to a college student knows the dreaded Freshman 15. Our society today acknowledges that there is a definite weight gain in first year college students. Although, it is often acknowledged that the “15” may be a slight exaggeration. In fact, it is not often that a freshman in college gains the full 15 pounds. But this isn’t well known at all, people just hear the 15 and go into full panic mode, I know I did. Could the anxiety that is induced by the discussion of this topic be what is causing it?

People who are not currently in college do not quite understand just how stressed college students can be. I never knew until I came to college. It also doesn’t help that adults believe that college students today face the same sources of stress as they did when they were in college, but that’s just not true. For more information about what exactly is causing college students so much stress, check out this video.

But these are just the most common forms of stress that college students can identify or are conscious of. I believe that there’s one more form that they don’t even know is causing them stress. The Freshman 15. It causes so much dread and anxiety about how we are eating or whether we’re working out enough, that I think the awareness of it may actually be counterproductive. In her podcast, Erin Tyo discusses how the Freshman 15 is nothing but an exaggeration, and I think that fact needs to be spread more. Rather, with this horrifying myth hanging over their heads, college students are being driven to stress.

Stress causes weight gain. It’s that simple. It often leads to unhealthy eating habits, specifically sugar and fat cravings. But it’s not just eating poorly because of stress that is causing the Freshman 15. Stress causes our body to release different hormones, and these hormones can cause or metabolism to slow down. This causes us to gain weight, specifically in our stomach area. So, next time you think you’re getting fat, blame it on the stress.

So what can college students do to lower their stress levels and prevent the Freshman 15? Maybe they could try this. Or maybe they can go with some more proven methods. For example, schools can make use of therapy dogs; especially when finals are looming. Students could also try not to put off all their studying until the week of final exams, but I think the dogs are probably a more practical method, because let’s face it: college students put off everything.

To answer the question of whether or not the Freshman 15 is stress-related, I would say yes, it definitely is. I think if college students would just take the time to simply research the facts rather than believing the horror stories of people coming to college and gaining weight in double digits, they would realize how rare of an occurrence that really is. And if they would just figure that out, their stress levels would decrease exponentially, or at least they’d have one less thing to worry about.



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