Faculty Publications

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January 2011

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Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior



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Food Science | Nutrition


Currently, 32% of college students are overweight or obese (body mass index ≥ 25),which is likely because many adolescents enter college with an elevated body mass index. Further, the transition from high school to college is associated with weight gain.On their own for the first time, freshmen have greater independence in all aspects of their lives. Increased independence, in turn, often results in changes in types of food and beverages consumed, and in overall eating and exercise patterns—changes that often affect weight gain. Although the popular media continues to perpetuate the “Freshman 15” myth, a recent meta-analysis reported freshmen gain, on average, < 4 pounds. This relatively small weight gain means perpetuation of the “Freshman 15” myth might lead to unhealthful dietary attitudes and behaviors (such as extreme dieting and exercise) among incoming students who are fearful of gaining weight. Thus, nutrition education on a college campus can fill an important role of teaching about adoption of healthful behaviors to prevent weight gain while discouraging extreme weight loss efforts.Freshman orientation sessions, covering various aspects of campus life, are often conducted prior to the school year. From the published information regarding these orientation sessions, however, they do not appear to include information that could dispel the “Freshman 15” myth, nor do they provide practical solutions for navigating the college food environment for this student group. This paper describes a nutrition workshop specifically aimed at college freshmen attending summer orientation programs at a large metropolitan public university. The goals of this workshop were to orient incoming students to the college food environment, to dispel myths about “The Freshman 15,” and to provide incoming students with lifestyle choices they could employ to maintain a healthful body weight and prevent disordered eating.


This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article whose final and definitive form, the Version of Record, has been published in Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 2011 in Volume 43 Issue 1. Find the published version of this article at this link.
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