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Students Gain Weight Over College Years

Based on previous research, many believe that students gain an average of 15 pounds after their first year in college. But researchers from Auburn University in Alabama have looked beyond the much-feared weight change over the freshman year and extended their investigation over the duration of a regular college course.

Their study which was published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism (APNM) reports on the impact of higher education on students’ weight, body mass index (BMI), and body composition. Sareen Gropper, a co-author of the study, and her colleagues followed 131 college students through all four years of college, documenting the nature of their weight gain.

They found that after their last year in college, most students (about 70%) had piled on an additional 11 pounds or about 5 kg. Male students had a more significant weight gain, increase in body fat, and BMI than their female counterparts. Furthermore the percentage of participants who were considered overweight or obese increased from 18% at the beginning of college to 31% at the end of the course.

Terry Graham, Editor of APNM, and a professor in the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph suggests that students in colleges and universities who live away from home do not have parents shopping and preparing food for them and that their focus on health may be distracted by extracurricular activities. He adds that the study shows how body composition can change within the early years of adulthood and how important students’ choices may be when it comes to health.

Graham and Gropper agree that institutions can help students make healthy choices by using campus-based health promotion strategies during their college years.


Canadian Science Publishing. Back to school: Is higher education making you fat?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2012.

Posted in: Diet, Healthy Eating, Lifestyle, News Briefs, Nutrition, Obesity

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