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New Students Try to Escape the Dreaded "Freshman 15"

The fall semester is now in full swing for area college students. And many new students are faced with new eating habits, which often lead to gaining the notorious “freshman 15”. KSMU’s Samuel Crowe headed over to a university dining hall, and has this report.

[Sound: ice pouring into cup]

Here at the Blair-Shannon dining hall on the MSU campus, essentially all students know about the “Freshman 15.” That’s a popular term for the common weight gain experienced by new college students once they are plunged into the university dining halls.

[Sound: plates and forks]

But Missouri State’s Student Wellness director, Jerilyn Reed, says 15 pounds is a little bit of an exaggeration.

“Usually they don’t gain technically 15, it’s anywhere from like three to maybe 10,” Reed said.

But even ten pounds makes a difference in a person’s overall health. Reed says students can attribute the weight gain to a lack of parental supervision at the dinner table. Now students can gorge on any meals they want, and they aren’t getting enough exercise.

“People had mandatory maybe P.E. or maybe they were into sports or athletics when they were in high school, and when they come to college, maybe they’re not quite so involved. With the new rec center, I know a lot of the residence halls have lost all their exercise equipment until the rec center opens,” Reed said.

Reed says students will have to make a determined effort to take control of their own health, and mentioned that the Wellness Program at Missouri State offers many activities to help out.

Tammy Roberts is a nutrition specialist for the MU Extension, and says eating right and exercise are important for young adults to grow as students.

“People who are nutritionally fit are more likely to have the energy, stamina, and self-esteem that enhances their ability to learn. And of course, you are at college to learn,” says Roberts.

Chartwells is the new dining services provider on campus. It offers many healthy options available to hungry students, like a salad bar, yogurt, and vegetables with almost every dinner meal.

But MSU’s Plaster Student Union has upgraded its food court, and it includes many unhealthy options, too. There’s a Papa John’s, a Chik-fil-A and a Wok N Roll Chinese restaurant. Still, Eric Sikes, a freshman Biology major at Missouri State, says it takes nothing more than one’s own willpower to control portions.

“I love the food at the PSU. I guess it’s more moderation. Self-monitoring is always a huge step in maintaining weight or putting on weight or losing it,” Sikes said.

And in between bites of waffles, eggs, and hashbrowns, freshman Film major Reina Hill and sophomore Education major Lauren White offered their own tips on how to stay healthy.

HILL: “Go to the gym.”

WHITE: “Work out.

HILL: “Walk around campus. Use the stairs.”

So if students want to get the most out of their college experience, maybe putting down the pizza and picking up the carrots is the better option. And with a new bike rental program on campus, as well as intramural sports and BearFit programs, all it takes is a little effort and the “freshman 15” could turn into the “freshman zero.” For KSMU News, I’m Samuel Crowe.