‘Freshman 15,' an idiom that every college student is familiar with has recently become somewhat of a cliché. This does not however imply that the connotation of the phrase is in any way diminishing. Students are forewarned before starting college of this inevitable problem, and many find it true, although the 15 pounds estimate is somewhat of a stretch. According to the New York Times, the average student adds up to 2.5 and 3.5 pounds during the first year of college . So, the weight gain problem in freshmen is genuine, but the gain isn’t as big as our fears. However, why do students gain weight? Since eating schedules during middle schools and high school are mapped out for the students, they get the allocated time to sit down and eat in peace, but college students often complain that their college routines leave no room for mealtimes. Therefore, they eat every chance they get, and several short snack times are spread through the day. Since they cannot keep any record of how much their diet intake is, they mostly end up eating more than necessary, and therefore start accumulating body fat. Another major problem; the lunch options available to the students in the college cafeterias are more appetizing than healthy. Since students have a variety of high-fat food to choose from, they make free use of their meal cards and eat to their heart’s content. The food not only results in them putting on extra weight, but also makes them exhausted and lethargic. The weight gain is also widely attributed by the researchers to the excessive consumption of alcohol into their first year of college. Consuming calories rich food over a prolonged time could also result in health problems including type-2 diabetes, heart diseases high blood pressure and a certain type of cancers. Being overweight could also introduce in students’ psychological ramifications like feeling of reduced self-worth because of a large waistline. They could also face ridicule from their colleagues and friends and could be mocked for being fat.
Like any other industry in the world, the college is also a place where attractions are created to draw in students and to maximize profits. Food is one of the many questions that come up while a student is considering the perfect choice for a college. In addition, in order to compete with the education market, the college cafeterias offer a wide variety of choices for the advantage of the students including pizzas, stir-fry, Mexican food, cookies and various other desserts. Many students grab a cookie or any other popular item on the menu on their way to classes after every mealtime because they believe that it may not cause a lot of harms to their health. The sweet beverages available on cafeterias also take the students several steps towards weight gain and closer to obesity. Many students after suffering through weight gain turn towards healthier eating choices in the cafeteria, but find very limited preferences. As an example, the following is the menu card of Blinn College, a college situated in the state of Texas. For breakfast, the college cafeteria offers pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausages, oatmeal and toast. The lunch items include broccoli and cheese soup, Italian chicken breast, Lasagna, Rosemary Potatoes, Vegetable medley, Corn, Rolls and Salad bars. The dinner menu items include; Chicken Alfredo with pasta, mixed vegetable, fried Okra, salad bar and desserts. Like Blinn College, other colleges in the United Sates also offer food that is rich in oil and cheese content, and the proportion of fruits and salads is negligible. The desert adds to the lure of the food and results in many students eating more than they are eager for.
The life of a student at college is quite exhilarating but at the same time, is also quite demanding. For the students to succeed through this period of their lives and subsequently through the future, it is necessary that they live and work with an alert body and a vigilant mind. They should, therefore, be offered healthier eating choices at college, and the food high in fat content should be offered once a week at most. The contents of fruits and vegetables in the cafeteria menu should be enlarged. College schedules should incorporate mealtimes when the students can sit and eat proper meals so that they do not pine for snacks in between lunch hours. The cafeterias should also increase the access of the students to water, fresh juices and low-calorie beverages. This is because the drinking water increases the students’ hydration and cognitive function, which leads to greater alertness and improved academic performance . The students at colleges should be educated regarding the health issues attached to excessive consumption of rich and high-calorie food. They should also be encouraged to discipline themselves concerning their eating habits. Another itinerary that could prove useful could be arranging seminars to provide education in relation to food. The products and the food items available in cafeterias should be calorie labeled in order to make it easier for the students to plan and mark out their eating habits. The colleges should also arrange health counseling to help students get through their obesity problem.
The students of today are our future. These are people who are going to shape the world of tomorrow, and for this very reason, they need to be healthy and fit so that they can strive towards their goals and ambitions. For this reason, we should take good care of their dietary requirements and its implications on their health. Therefore, colleges should take responsibility for all of their students and their health and achievements and employ any means necessary to help them in their pursuits. The parents should also play the part necessary for the reforming of their child’s health. The government should also not disregard its responsibility in the matter and should take steps to limit their accessibility of unhealthy food.
Bakalar, Nicholas. Patterns: ‘Freshman 15’ Is a Myth, a Study Suggests. 7 November 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/08/health/research/freshman-15-weight-gain-freshman-3-may-be-more-realistic.html?_r=0>.
Blinn. BLINN COLLEGE CAFETERIA MENU. 2014. <https://www.blinn.edu/foodservices/Menu.htm>.
Martinac, Paula. What Health Problems Can Come From a High-Calorie Diet? <http://livehealthy.chron.com/health-problems-can-come-highcalorie-diet-1304.html>.
NPLAN, National Policy and Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity. Model Wellness Policy Language for water access in schools. October 2010. <http://changelabsolutions.org/sites/phlpnet.org/files/WaterAccessSchools_ModelPolicy_FINAL_20101008.pdf>.
Tumblr. The Freshman 15: Fact or Fiction? 2012. <http://ugafreshman15.tumblr.com/essay>.