Info graph by Kylie Myers
A new study has revealed that the college “freshman 15” is more of a myth than proven fact.
Charles Baum, economics professor at Middle Tennessee State University, led the study, which analyzed 8,984 individuals from 1997 to 2010. Overall, the study found that during freshman year, most people gain one pound on average, with men gaining 14.1 pounds from the year before college to the year after graduating. Women enrolled in college gained about 8.3 pounds over the six-year span between the year before college and the year after graduation.
“Our bodies are so valuable,” Hannah Tikson, Pepperdine health and wellness education coordinator, said. “They allow us to learn and think critically and be creative and exercise and experience the beauty that is where we live. That should be what compels us to love them well, to fuel them well, to exercise them. It shouldn’t be an overconsumption with needing to fit a certain frame, be a certain size.”
The study found that college students gain less weight in comparison with people of the same age who do not go to college. Men who do not attend college gain 14.8 pounds in the same six years and women gain 14.6 pounds.
Tikson said, based on BMI, while only 19.1 percent of Pepperdine females are above the healthy weight range, 34 percent of them think they are slightly overweight or overweight, according to the 2015 National College Health Assessment. 59 percent of Pepperdine females said they are trying to lose weight.
On the other hand, 5.5 percent of Pepperdine males are under the healthy weight range, based on BMI, 16 percent of them think they are slightly underweight or underweight, according to the 2015 National College Health Assessment. 30 percent of Pepperdine males said they are trying to gain weight.
In the 2015 National College Health Assessment, 31.3 percent of Pepperdine women and 14.1 percent of Pepperdine men said they found their personal appearance challenging to deal with. Nationally, 29.4 percent of females and 17.1 percent of males thought their personal appearance was traumatic.
“Two of the main ways that we encourage students to destress is to eat a healthy diet, because that’s going to impact your hormones and your stress levels, and exercise,” Tikson said. “If those two coping mechanisms, that can be healthy coping, turn into another source of stress, then it’s kind of shooting yourself in the foot.”
Tikson said these common misconceptions of body image are what compelled her to organize the Love Your Body Week. The week of March 20 to 24 will include events from different departments who will discuss how to identify and deal with eating disorders.
“Nutrition should be loving your body,” Tikson said. “We eat to fuel it because we love it and because we love what it’s capable of. In college, now’s the time to develop a healthy relationship with our body.”
Freshman cross country runner Tatum Rask said she finds she eats healthier at Pepperdine than at home.
“There is a pressure to eat healthy,” Rask said. “I know in cross country there [are] lots of problems with girls not eating enough and girls starving themselves to be faster, but I think on our team, we’re really good about that. We realize that you need to eat to be fast.”
Freshman TJ Marxer said he finds it challenging to be healthy at Pepperdine than at home and is working harder this semester to be healthier.
“Everything at home was homemade and not made for the masses of people so it had a little more nutritional value,” Marxer said. “It’s somewhat of a challenge due to the low amount of alternatives to foods that I don’t like or that I would rather eat, as well as not enough alternative food outside of the cafeteria or the HAWC.”
Tikson said individuals looking for guidance regarding body image issues or eating disorders can go to the Counseling Center for free, confidential help. There is also a dietitian at the Health Center who can help provide insight into creating a healthy and nutritional diet. Those looking for spiritual help can look for support with personal mentors.
Follow Madeleine Carr on Twitter: @madeleinecarr23