UACES Facebook "Freshmen 15" Fact or Myth?
skip to main content

"Freshmen 15" Fact or Myth?

Is "Freshmen 15" true? Here are some tips to keep you on track.

Nashville, Ark. – Many colleges and universities will be starting classes this week. This is a very exciting time for students heading off to college for the first time! They will face lots of challenges, many rewarding ones. Most students have heard of the “Freshmen 15” which is gaining at least 15 pounds that first year of college. For some students, this may be a concern. The good news is this is a myth! The bad news is that most freshmen will gain some weight, but the freshman 15 is not true.

            Very few freshmen, in fact, only about 5 percent gain 15 pounds during their first year of college. According to a study conducted by Auburn University, most freshmen will gain about four to six pounds that first year. There are several reasons this occur.

            Along with decreased physical activity, the transition from high school and living at home to college life does bring on more stress and poorer eating habits. The good news is the weight can be kept off. Here’s how.

            Remember the saying your mom had about eating breakfast? She was right! Skipping meals leads to overeating later on. Make time for breakfast. Fuel up in the morning. Choose healthy breakfast options that provide a lot of protein to help you stay full longer. Omelets filled with veggies or whole wheat toast and a cup of fruit are better options than a cinnamon roll and crème cappuccino.

            Also, most universities and colleges have fitness facilities that are funded by the student’s tuition. Make time to take advantage of the equipment and get your money’s worth. If you are unfamiliar with the fitness equipment, there is usually someone on duty to assist you, or better yet, take a physical fitness class for credit hours. This is a good way to help relieve stress and bring up your grade point average.

            Studies also identified overeating as a major contributor to weight gain. Many schools offer all-you-can-eat cafeteria plans, which tend to encourage larger portion sizes. These buffets allow you to take as much as you want.

            Try to take small amounts and only go back for seconds if you are truly still hungry. Remember the 20-minute rule: it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that it is full and it’s time to stop eating. So, enjoy eating with your friends and take your time.

            Another suggestion is to plan your meals. Look at all the options available and plan what you will eat based on the MyPlate guidelines. Fill your plate with plenty of vegetables and fruits. Choose dark colored vegetables that are grilled or steamed. MyPlate recommends that half of the plate should be vegetables and fruits, one quarter should be carbohydrates or starch, preferably whole-grain, and the last quarter should be protein.

            This can sometimes be a challenge as cafeteria food offers do not change that much. However, the hot plate line usually does offer something different each day. Avoid eating at the burger and pizza line for every meal.

             Many people cope with stress by turning to food, which can contribute to weight gain. Keep healthy snack options available when those times hit. Fill a basket with whole-grain crackers or cups of fruit packed in its own juice. Other options include low-fat cheese sticks, peanut butter, and nuts. Eat these with caution though! While these foods provide lots of protein, they also provide lots of calories and fat. Popcorn, graham crackers, pretzels, cut up vegetables and carrot sticks and whole fruit are great options too!

            The freshman year is an exciting time for students. You are spreading your wings into the adult world and having to make your own decisions. Start the year off by making wise choices to eat right and exercise. Both can help you achieve scholastic achievement!

            For more information on choosing healthy foods to eat, contact the Howard County Cooperative Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse. The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas Research and Extension. You can also check out our website or the website for more information.

Recipe of the Week

            The Howard County Fair is just around the corner. I encourage everyone to enter something they have made this past year in the fair. Baked Goods is a great category to demonstrate your baking skills. Entries will be accepted on September 3 from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Here is a basic fried pie crust you might want to try out. Of course, you can enter pies, cakes, quick breads, cookies and other items. Refrigerated items will not be accepted. This includes cream pies and/or desserts that must be kept cold. Food safety is a major concern!

Pick up a copy of Howard County Fair tabloid at locations around the county, or at the Extension Office. New this year, is a pie contest and a decorated cupcake contest on Saturday. Be sure to check them out!

            This recipe was shared by Gladine Bennett, a member of the New Horizon EHC club.

Gladine’s Fried Pie Crust Recipe

3 cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup shortening

1 cup milk (more if needed)

            In a mixing bowl, sift the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together. Cut in shortening. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the milk in all at once. Mix quickly and add additional milk if needed. Lightly knead dough by hand (about 5 times).

            Cut dough into 12 equal portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough pieces into 5 or 6 inch circles. Put two or three tablespoons of filling of your choice in the center of each round, moisten edges with milk to ensure seal. Fold over and crimp the edges with a fork.

            Fry a few at a time without crowding, in hot oil, until golden brown. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with sugar.

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.