Archive for the tag - freshman 15

Even Small Weight Gains Raise Blood Pressure.

Staying active and healthy in college is important; even small weight gains can translate to increases in blood pressure and complications down the road.

It’s back-to-school time! And with 150 million individuals heading to university around the world, the dreaded “freshman 15” will be on many minds. According to research and contrary to popular belief, most university students don’t actually gain 15 pounds their first year. The real number is closer to 5 pounds.

Still, as reported by a new University of Illinois study, even small annual weight gains can raise blood pressure in young folks – and the effect is even worse for young women. For the study, data was collected from 795 students ages 18 – 20 over the course of one year.

According to Margarita Teran-Garcia, a professor at the university:

In our study, a small weight gain was enough to raise a college student’s systolic blood pressure by 3 to 5 points. If young people continue to gain 1.5 pounds a year and think it doesn’t matter, they’re misleading themselves and increasing their risk for heart disease.

But there’s some good news. The reverse was also true. In other words, even small reductions in body weight were associated with improved blood pressure. And over time, those small changes add up.

If you’re a university student in need of some guidance, check out my 11 tips to avoid the freshman 15.

And remember, by making simple and small changes to your diet and activity level, you’re able to vastly improve your health and prevent larger complications down the road.

11 Tips to Avoid Freshman 15.

Hey Davey,

I’m in college. I’ve been overweight most of my life. As a nursing major, if I want to be able to take care of my future patients I need to take care of myself. Do you have any suggestions on weight release for college students? Especially, those of us who live on campus and don’t have mom and/or dad cooking for us anymore?


Hey Cas,

It’s back to school season and it’s estimated that more than 150 million individuals will be attending colleges and universities this year. Higher education can be a wonderful thing for the mind – but it’s often not-so-wonderful for the body.

Though the term “freshman 15” refers to the ubiquitous notion that students gain 15 pounds in the first year of university, most students actually gain 5.29 pounds.

Nonetheless, university need not be a time of weight gain and unhealthy eating. Here are a 11 tips to make all of your college or university years a little bit healthier:

  1. Make use of the mini fridge. Most campuses allow for mini fridges; make the most of yours. Stock it with healthy (but delicious) options like fruits, vegetables and other nutritional foods. It’s easier to eat healthy when you’re preparing your own food.
  2. Schedule time at the recreation center. Almost every campus has a rec center that’s open to students; use it! Look at your schedule and find chunks of free time that you can dedicate to exercise. Think of your gym time as another class and plan your day accordingly.
  3. Pick your liquor carefully. If you’re legally able to drink, make wiser alcohol choices. Many drinks are packed with calories and yet totally devoid of nutrients. Straight liquor and gin and vodka tonics are among the lesser of evils – and always remember to drink in moderation. The calories really add up.
  4. Walk more. Walking is one of those little things that can add up. Instead of driving across campus or taking buses, walk as much as possible. These little bits of exercise will help you burn more calories throughout the day.
  5. Join a recreational sports team or group. Most schools have organized intramural sports teams. It’s a great way to stay fit, socialize and have fun. In addition, your campus may have student groups geared towards exercise – like yoga, hiking, running, etc. Join them!
  6. Use pizza as a treat. While the typical American might eat 46 slices of pizza per year, that number is presumably much higher for college and university students. Unfortunately, pizza is loaded with calories and unhealthy fats. Trying to eliminate pizza altogether isn’t practical; instead, use it as a treat for special occasions.
  7. Opt for healthier cafeteria options. Not all cafeteria food is created equal. While it might be tempting to reach for the french fries and fried chicken, look for alternative options. Start with a healthy salad, for example, and top it with grilled chicken. If you go back for multiple plates of food, ensure that you wait for a few minutes in between courses – your stomach may be full before your hunger ceases.
  8. Don’t keep junk food in your room. Duh. While studying or watching TV, mindless snacking is all too easy. You’ll be much less likely to indulge in this destructive habit if you don’t buy unhealthy snacks like chips and candy in the first place. Instead, cut up an apple and top it with some peanut butter. Or snack on some berries and nuts.
  9. Eat breakfast. Skipping breakfast has been linked to slower metabolism and weight gain; never skip breakfast. If you can’t make it to the cafeteria, keep some cereal and milk or hard boiled eggs in your room. Don’t miss the most important meal of the day.
  10. Sleep. Sleep deprivation has been associated with weight gain – so do your best to get a full eight hours, even if it means getting to bed a bit earlier than your friends. You’ll feel healthier and more energized.
  11. Have fun! Don’t let yourself become obsessed with your weight or diet. It’s all about balance; enjoy this amazing time in your life.

Did I miss anything? Share your best tips in the comments below.