Weight Gain at College

Reviewed by Sarah Klemm, RD, CD
Weight Gain at College

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The legend of the "Freshman 15" is a real concern for many college students but it's neither limited to freshman nor to 15 pounds.

College weight gain is a common problem and may result from a variety of factors, such as:

  • Decreased physical activity or involvement in sports.
  • Unlimited food choices offered in dining halls.
  • An increase in snacking, late night eating and convenience foods.
  • Drinking more calorie dense beverages such as sugary coffee drinks, soda, energy drinks and alcohol.

Healthy Food Choices

  • Watch portions. Pay attention to food choices and portion sizes in the dining hall.
  • Make smart choices. Emphasize nutrient-rich foods and beverages, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat milk and dairy products, seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and nuts and seeds. Limit foods with added sugars, solid fats and salt.
  • Choose fats wisely. Choose more healthful fats from nuts, seeds, olive oil, canola oil and avocados. Limit fried foods and sweets.
  • Drink low-calorie beverages. Skip regular soft drinks and other high calorie beverages and opt for lower calorie choices such as water, low-fat or fat-free milk, unsweetened teas and coffee.

Physical Activity

Get moving with at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity most days of the week. Moderate-intensity activities include walking, jogging, biking and stair climbing. Many colleges also offer elective classes such as dance, yoga, martial arts and other sports.

Activities of daily living burn calories, too, such as walking to and from class and parking your car further away from campus.

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