*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.
College students often put on weight during their freshman year, and a lack of structured exercise may be largely to blame, a new study suggests.
Weight gain is so common among first-year college students that it has spawned the phrase “the freshman 15” — though that figure is something of a myth.
More often, studies have found, college freshmen gain about 8 pounds over the academic year.
The new study — which followed freshmen at the University of Georgia (UGA), in Athens — found a similar pattern. Students gained 3 to 4 pounds, on average, during their first semester.
As for why, it appeared a big culprit was lack of vigorous exercise — the kind that gets people breathing hard and working up a sweat.
At the start of the semester, 40% of freshmen weren’t getting any vigorous exercise. By semester’s end, a full 70% weren’t, the study found.
“They just aren’t finding ways to be active to that degree,” said senior researcher Sami Yli-Piipari, an associate professor at UGA’s College of Education.
There can be various reasons, according to Yli-Piipari. A big one, he said, is that during high school kids often have regular, structured exercise — playing sports or taking physical education classes.
And for many, that stops once they go to college.
The findings — recently published in the Journal of American College Health — are based on 166 UGA freshmen who were surveyed at the beginning and end of their first semester in 2019.