October 28, 2004

First-years fear signs of clichéd weight gain

The urban legend of the "freshman 15" claims college students gain weight in their freshmen year on campus. Rumor has it that 15 pounds is the average weight gain.

Most Chicago students contacted by the Maroon agreed that the average first-year does indeed put on the pounds.

"Most guys get a large gut and punchy in the face, while most girls get some excess junk in the trunk," said Pat Rich, an undeclared first-year in the College. When asked if he was worried about gaining some extra flub this year, Rich said, "Since I never gained weight personally, I'm not worried about it. However, students should eat less and eat better if it is a concern."

For many students, time restrictions due to classes and meetings conflict with their ability to sit down and eat a balanced meal. Argun Rumun, a first-year in the College living in the Shoreland, thinks lack of time may be the driving force behind the weight gain.

"There is just not enough time to eat right," Rumun said. "This is especially true for Shoreland residents, where the only source of healthy food is in Walgreen's and the Co-op marketplace, which is not very convenient late at night."

Apart from the lack of time for balanced meals, many students also attribute the enforced freshmen meal plans to first-year weight gain. According to second-year in the College Daniel Aguilar, who gained seven pounds last year, the freshmen plans offer so many meal points that students are almost forced to eat more than necessary.

"They force a freshmen meal plan that gives us 17 meals a week," Aguilar said. "This is way too much for a single student and it tricks us into overeating just because we don't want to waste meal points."

Another concern with campus food is quality. One slice of cheese pizza at Pierce's dining hall can contain 500 calories. Vegan choices are rare in the dining halls. According to Aguilar, "the healthy foods in the dining halls are often undercooked and nasty."

Many upperclassmen also experience problems with weight gain. Hong Tae Kim, an international transfer student from Korea, attributes the laziness of the students as the true cause behind the weight gain. "The ‘freshmen 15' is true, even among upperclassmen," Kim said. "People living around campus get lazy because of the cold weather and just study, eat, and sleep all day."

Sara Seitz, a second-year in the College, believes that the simple habit of healthy eating and regular exercise will solve the problem. "Don't drink, exercise, eat right," she said. "It's very simple, but a lot of us are just too lazy."

Sara Worrell-Berg, a resident head for Bishop House in the Shoreland, said students should exercise more. "Apart from eating a healthy diet and not caving in to excessive drinking, students should do simple everyday exercises to fight back weight gain," she said. "Simple exercises such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator and walking to campus instead of taking the bus."