The Recovery Blog

Fear of the Freshman 15 Can Lead to Eating Disorders

Fear of the Freshman 15 Can Lead to Eating DisordersFor many young people, the teenage and young adult years are a period of change and adjustment. It is during this time that young adults’ bodies go through drastic changes, and for many people, this causes anxiety and even fear about how they look and how they will look in the future.

Fear of Gaining Weight

The “freshman 15,” or the idea that the average college student will gain 15 pounds during their first year, continues to be worrisome for young adults who are already concerned about body image. These individuals begin taking extreme measures to ensure they don’t gain weight, and for some, it can quickly lead to an eating disorder.

However, one researcher found that the freshman 15 is a myth, and that by following healthy principles, young adults don’t have to worry about gaining anything close to 15 pounds.

The study was co-authored by research scientist and Ohio State professor, Jay Zagorsky. It was conducted in connection with the U.S. Department of Labor and was published in the journal Social Science Quarterly.

According to Zagorsky, most people gain a small amount of weight as they enter adulthood when their bodies naturally change, regardless of whether or not they are in college. Individuals who drink high calorie alcoholic drinks, give up on exercise, eat a lot of cheap fast food, and use sugary energy drinks can expect to gain more weight.

However, those who are mindful of their health and eat a balanced diet will only gain a pound or two as they mature into adults.

Developing Healthy Habits is Important

There are many young adults who have an unhealthy view of themselves, and books and magazines that warn of the freshman 15 only add to these individuals’ anxiety and self-consciousness. It is important to help young adults develop healthy habits to stay fit and healthy, and avoid extreme diets. As Zagorski stated, “College is a wonderful time to learn how to eat healthy on your own, without mom and dad looking over your shoulder. The idea is to try to set up healthy living habits early in life.”  

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