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Saturday, May 18, 2024

How to fight the 'Freshman 15'

There are many unique aspects to being a freshman in college: dealing with your roommate's smelly laundry, getting laughed at by a stranger when you ask \Where is State Street?"" and, of course, going to your first lecture with 500 of your closest friends. 




But there is one rite of passages that has garnered a spot of its own in the mythology of college-the ""Freshman 15."" 




""I think every girl that goes to college worries about it,"" UW-Madison freshman Jessica Webb said. ""You hear about it back in high school."" 




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All the seniors reading this should get out their old driver's licenses and take a look-recognize that person? That guy who used to weigh 150 pounds and actually had cheekbones? Yeah, that was you when you were first a freshman. Now look at the ID you got when you actually turned 21. 




Almost everyone, to some extent or another, goes through the freshman weight gain, even if he or she does lose it later. It may be 30 pounds or five, but some extra bulk is usually added. 




For the first time in many freshmen lives they are in control of what they eat. Be that McDonald's, Ed's Express or the Willy Street Co-op, simply having more options than before often leads to increased calorie consumption, according Dale A. Schoeller, professor of nutritional science. 




""Greater freedom in food choices is associated with an increase in total energy intake and hence weight gain,"" he said.  




This is an unintended consequence of the University Food Services' desire to provide UW-Madison students with a wide range of culinary options. 




""We certainly have a number of nutritional choices out there, if the students want to make those choices,"" said Julie Luke, UW-Madison assistant food service director in charge of the Lakeshore dorms. ""There is a wide variety of food available."" 




More bad news for freshmen is that dorm food is now available later at night, as late as 12:30 a.m. at certain locations. 




""I'm doing late-night eating now ... I didn't do that before,"" Webb said. ""Here you have to-you get hungry!"" 




Webb is just part of a trend of more late-night munchers according to Luke. 




""We inch up by a half hour each year,"" Luke said. ""We find that's when students want to eat that late and we tailor to what students want."" 




Though there is no ""hard proof"" that eating late at night directly leads to weight gain, there is a leaning in the academic community that such habits do not give the body time to burn off the calories just taken in. 




""You put the calories in early in the day, you have more energy for the day,"" Schoeller said. ""You eat it late, then you sleep for six to eight hours, and it gets stored for later."" 




But, one thing that is definitely proven is the large amount of calories in beer and liquor, resulting in many freshmen growing ""Miller babies."" 




""I'm sure I'm getting a beer gut, but it's not full-grown yet,"" Webb joked. 




There is some good news, though it is more hard work than a magic bullet: UW-Madison is huge and most people generally have to walk long distances to at least one of their classes. And this means the freshmen have a chance to sweat off alll those extra calories. 




""[Freshmen] get a lot of walking on campus, it comes with the territory,"" he said. ""And it is awfully easy to get into the gyms here. Those things can help counteract a lot of dietary changes."" 




In addition, the University Housing Service attempts to competitively price healthier foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to attempt to encourage students to make wiser choices.

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