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May 5, 2006

Feature

Cassi O’Meara rummages through her closets, searching for anything that may fit. A gigantic heap of clothes takes up her entire side of the dorm room.
O’Meara throws her clothes around in a frantic rush. Nothing seems to fit like it used to. She fills the room with her curse words, and runs to her desk to grab a scissors.
She grabs an old pair of jeans from the overload of clothes on the ground and cuts two slits up the sides of them. She quickly throws them on and sighs with relief.
Finally.. Something to wear.
O’Meara is one of the hundreds of students at UMD who has gained weight during the first year of college. Freshman weight gain is a very common addition to the college experience.
According to a study by Cornell University, college students gain an average of four pounds during their first 12 weeks on campus.
The freshman fifteen sneaks up on most students. Weight gain goes from a variety of reasons.
“I know that a lot of the weight I’ve gained is from the DC (Dining Center),? says freshman Nicole Mertz. “They don’t have very many healthy options, and the ones that they do have usually suck.?
The Dining Center contributes to weight gain because it’s all-you-can-eat, and they serve lots of fried, energy dense food. The healthy choices are usually untouched.
“The DC is the only source of food that I have to eat most days,? says Freshman Caitlin Perry, “It’s like you’re forced to eat it because if you don’t, than you’ll be hungry for the rest of the day.?
Besides the DC, there are plenty of other reasons students are stacking on the pounds.
“I tend to eat a lot whenever I’m up at school,? says freshman Melissa O’Brien, “I think I eat a lot here for comfort because when I’m back at home my appetite changes drastically.?
The majority of comfort foods such as chips, ice cream, and pizza, are unhealthy. They are widely used by college students in the dorms because they are generally cheap, and easily accessible.
The frequent use of alcohol for most students is another huge factor contributing to the freshman fifteen.
“When I first came up to school in the fall, my drinking habits took a toll on me,? says Mertz, “I’m not gonna lie, I drank for eleven straight nights in a row. Something I’ve never done before.?
Alcohol causes you to gain so much weight because it’s high in calories. There are seven calories per gram of alcohol.
“I never used to be much of a partier before I came up to Duluth,? says O’Meara. “But drinking is such a social part of college life. It almost feels wrong not to drink. And I know that’s where a lot of my freshman fifteen has come from.?
The freshman fifteen is a common fear for many new coming students, but there are things that you can do to avoid weight gain.
Stephanie Barton, Registered Dietician at UMD Health Services, counsels many students at UMD. She helps people with eating disorders, diabetes, high cholesterol, and weight gain. She says that over 90% of students see her because of weight gain.
The freshman fifteen is a common fear for many new coming students, but there are things you can do to avoid it.
Instead of the elevator, take the stairs. Try to limit your portion sizes, and eat more whole grains. Move around as much as possible.
“I’m a big believer in eating a variety of foods,? says Barton. “Pizza’s great, fast food’s great. It just depends on how frequently you eat it.?