2007 -2009 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
Objective: To examine whether the “Freshman Fifteen” is a myth or reality within college freshmen, if regular exercise can reduce the effects of college weight gain, if exercise can alter food and drink choices, and the underlying influences that contribute to freshman weight gain.
Design: Analytical survey study.
Setting: University of Kentucky.
Methods: A survey was administered to 200 freshmen at the University of Kentucky campus. The participants included 98 female students (age 18.89 +/- 0.716 years) and 102 male students (age 18.97 +/- 0.777 years). The students completed surveys regarding their eating habits, exercising habits, pre-college weight, if they have gained weight since coming to college (past 6 months) and why they think the increase of weight has occurred. The data received from the surveys was further analyzed using Microsoft Excel by compiling charts and graphs, and calculating standard deviations and averages.
Results: Data between freshmen students who engage in physical activity one time a week versus those who participated in physical activity five or more times a week did not show a significant statistical difference between the two (p=0.545). When comparing students current versus previous weight, statistical data was displayed that it was reaching statistical significance (p=0.067). It was found that an average of 5 pounds was what the majority gained. Female students gained weight (p=1.04926E-05) and male students lost weight (p=1.39906E-13). Data within the research suggested that freshmen who routinely exercise and the resulting food and drink choices the make was not statistically significant (p=0.266). Females reported an average mean weight gain of 3 pounds and males reported an average mean weight loss of 4 pounds within their first semester of college.
Conclusion: Data was analyzed and the research study suggests that there is some truth to freshman weight gain, and further more in the female population. The information does not support the myth of the “freshman fifteen” because the average weight gain within a freshmen student was not equal to fifteen pounds within the female subjects who gained an average of 3 pounds. There was no supporting data collected to further prove that students who exercise frequently will not feel the effects of weight gain, as well as students who exercise more frequently will have healthier eating and drinking habits. Further research is needed within these topics, in addition to a broader target population.