Throughout the length of schooling, students go through various changes. In their first year of school, children are required to make the transition from being at home for the entire day to being in school for a number of hours a day. These transition periods happen many times through the schooling years, but the most drastic changes occur during the transition from high school to college, where students weather numerous lifestyle changes. While each individual student goes on their own journey, certain themes remain common between different students. Studies are done to look at these themes identifying the numerous differences and similarities.
One common theme for students transitioning to college is the concept of the freshman 15. The freshman 15 is the idea that a freshman college student will gain 15 pounds throughout the duration of their first year of college. It is something nearly every incoming college student hears about (Delinsky & Wilson, 2008). The freshman 15 can be accounted to numerous factors, such as the student’s living environment, the food available to them, the level of their physical activity, their level of stress, and their eating habits.
One factor of the freshman 15 is the student’s living environment. Students living on campus in residence halls are more prone to weight gain than students living at home with their parents or off campus (Provencher et al., 2009). This is due to the availability of food on campus at various universities that studies were held. While students living at home with their parents often have home cooked meals, often dining halls in college campuses serve food with an all-you-can eat buffet style, where students are free to eat as much as they like. Students living away from home are given the responsibility to obtain their own meals, which can lead to “increased consumption of prepared meals, snacks and fast foods (less nutritious meals) and less ‘home cooking’” (Provencher et al., 2009). The distance from a students’ dorm room can play a part in freshmen weight gain. The closer the distance a college dorm room is to the dining hall, the more likely the student residing in the dorm room will experience weight gain (Kasparek et al., 2008).
Another key factor leading to excessive weight gain in college freshmen are new eating habits (Lowe et al., 2006). When transitioning to college, along with the new freedom comes new eating habits. Students in college often find they have an unlimited choice of food combined with limited cooking experience, and turn to a diet consisting of unhealthy foods (Lowe et al., 2006). Many unhealthy foods are ubiquitous in a college campus, due to their lower prices in stores. When students have snack foods, they may often find themselves snacking without noticing. Racette et al. (2005) found that college freshmen students often developed the habit of eating late at night, which is known to play a role in weight gain. Wengreen & Moncur (2009) found that 38% of...