Here’s How Much Weight You Really Gain During College


Forget the “Freshman 15” — the “Graduate 10” is a far more likely scenario for the typical college student.

Flickr Image Courtesy: Jirka Matousek, CC BY-SA 2.0

The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior released a study on college students, chronicling their average weight throughout their college career. The average weight gain for the students was 10 pounds, with the average starting weight of 147 pounds rising to 157 pounds at the time of graduation.

While the myth of the “Freshman 15” is no longer valid or supported by research, the fact that college students do gain weight during their college career has been noticed by scientists, and therefore studied in this instance.

The study found that one-third of the weight gain was put on during the first year of schooling. Each student participating in the study gained roughly 3 pounds during their freshman year. The remaining weight was put on throughout the remaining years to total a 10 pound increase.

When the research began, 23 percent of the students had a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, categorizing them as obese. At the end of the study, the number of obese students had nearly doubled to 41 percent.

Health practitioners at colleges and universities often focus their attentions on first-year students, but health practices are needed at all levels to prevent weight gain among students. The long-term health of these students can be at risk, as obesity contributes to the leading causes of preventable death among Americans. Over 35 percent of Americans are currently diagnosed as obese.

The study also found that male students had a higher weight gain average than their female counterparts. Females gained anywhere from 3-10 pounds, while the males gained about 9-14 pounds.

Data collected to support these findings included the height and weight of the students to calculate body mass index, as well as their dietary habits and exercise patterns. In addition to the weight gain, the dietary and exercise patterns reported did not meet the recommended guidelines for their age bracket. This, again, can present a larger issue in regards to long-term health risks and implications.

College students have long been recognized as more susceptible to weight gain than other demographics, and further steps by university health practitioners and educators can be taken to ensure the health of the students, from the start of their college career to the very end.

Lizzy Pope, the author of the study, stated that only 15 percent of the participating students met the minimum daily activity requirement. The minimum requirement of activity is 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week, according to the American Heart Association.