Chances are, you've probably heard the ubiquitous myth of the "freshman 15" — that freshman who enter into college gain 15 pounds in their first weeks of school. Though the term is traced only to an issue of Seventeen magazine in 1989, that hasn't stopped subsequent news outlets and publications from advocating for ways to "fight" the freshman 15, because, sure, gaining weight during the first year of college is what students should worry most about instead of things like exams and workloads.
A new study, however, provides even further evidence that the freshman 15 really is just a myth. The study, published in the journal Demography, found that during freshman year, most people actually gain about one pound on average.
Charles Baum, economics professor at Middle Tennessee State University, led the study, analyzing 8,984 students from 1997 to 2010.
"I find that college freshmen gain substantially less than the 15 pounds rumored to be typical for freshmen," the study reads. Instead, the men studied gained an average of 14.1 pounds between the year before college and the year after graduating, while women who participated gained an average of 8.3 pounds. In both instances, you'll notice, people didn't gain nearly as much weight as the "freshman 15" would have you believe. And besides, many of our bodies are still developing in college — they're supposed to change.
And as Hannah Tikson, a health and wellness coordinator at Pepperdine University pointed out, this study is important because it banishes a common misconception that can hurt your body image.
“Our bodies are so valuable,” she said in a press release. “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.”