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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Fighting the Freshman 15

The Freshman 15 has become the token slogan across college campuses referring to the elusive weight gain first year students put on for seemingly no reason.

Before you go thinking there’s some kind of curse hovering above the heads of the entire freshman class that causes their jeans to fit more snugly, it’s only fair to state the obvious lifestyle changes that are adopted to accommodate living on a college campus, and therefore can be linked to the extra pounds packed on.

According to, (yes, there is actually a website) the key contributors to weight gain in the first year of college are lack of exercise, late night eating, keeping unhealthy snacks in the dorms, unhealthy cafeteria food and the consumption of large amounts of alcohol.

Before you start to panic over the number on the scale and those extra trips to Kelly Dining at 2:00  a.m., you should know that the same website also disclosed that the average college freshman only gains about five pounds. Take a breath.

“Freshman year is the optimal time to make sure that you are adopting healthy eating habits while away from home,” Leah Holbrook, Stony Brook University’s resident nutritionist, said in an e-mail.

The first piece of advice Holbrook offered was to drink water.

“I often see students who drink more than 1,000 calories per day. While that sounds high, it only takes a few sweetened beverages,” Holbrook said. “It is much healthier to opt for water (great with lemon or lime), seltzer or unsweetened tea or iced tea.”

Alcoholic beverages don’t quite fit into the equation for a healthy lifestyle either.

“Alcoholic drinks are high in calories and metabolized similar to fat making them unhealthy and unsafe for a variety of reasons,” Holbrook said.  “Aside from the dangers of drinking, drinking can also encourage overeating in social situations.”

Holbrook also recommended that students choose healthy snacks opposed to junk food and not to let long periods of time pass between eating meals.

“Make sure to carry some healthy snacks with you to avoid relying on vending machines and stock your room with foods that you feel good about eating to avoid constant temptation,” Holbrook suggested.

As for eating in the dining halls, Holbrook suggested that students go to in order to find the nutritional value of the food options available at Stony Brook.  Hey, you spend six hours a day on the internet anyway, why not?

Many college students also experience varying levels of stress throughout the year due to class and other responsibilities.

“Stress can impact your hormones and increase your risk of being overweight,” Holbrook said. “Additionally, most of us have experienced stress-related mindless eating which is often a result of lack of sleep or the desire to relax at the end of the day.”

So the next time you’re feeling the squeeze for an assignment, just put the Cheetos down.

Exercise is also a pinnacle part in maintaining health and body weight. According to Holbrook, it is recommended that college students get about two and half hours of cardio exercise every week. That’s 30 minutes of exertion for five days of the week, and no, standing in line for California Pizza Kitchen doesn’t actually count.

Each residence quad has a gym available for use and there is a gym on the third floor of the Student Activities Center. All these facilities offer the equipment needed for an adequate workout, but many students on campus have found alternative ways to exercise and stay active.

According to Campus Recreation Coordinator David Hairston, there are 5,600 students involved in sports clubs and an additional 1,100 students who participate in intramural sports on campus.

Other students get their recommended exercise through walking and bike riding to class  as opposed to taking the bus.

But keeping the muffin top at bay may actually be easier and more fun than expected.

For some students like Dan O’Dowd, Brandon Baird, Mike Leiner and Chris Lu who can be seen skateboarding in front of the Melville Library, keeping in shape is just something that they do while having fun.

When asked if he thought he was getting a good work out by flipping tricks on his skateboard, Brandon Baird, a senior biology major, just pointed to his sweat-stained shirt and smiled. Okay, point taken.

Chris Lu, a junior and biology major, chatted enthusiastically about the ways he stays active with surprising methods.

“Humans versus Zombies is a lot of running and strategy and will really keep you moving,” Lu said.  “It was so popular last spring that they’re being it back as a club and it starts next month.”

Now for the bad news.

“Gaining weight in freshman year is not as common as a slow weight gain throughout the full four years of college,” Holbrook said.

Sorry upperclassmen, looks like you’ll have to keep counting those calories.

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