College Freshmen Urged to Keep Excess Pounds Away
SUNDAY, Aug. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Although the dreaded "Freshman 15" -- a reference to the pounds gained by new college students -- has been revealed by researchers to be a bit of an exaggeration, students should still take steps to avoid gaining unwanted pounds, an expert warns.
Kari Kooi, a registered dietitian at the Methodist Hospital in Houston, noted that most college freshman gain 3.5 pounds, but even a small weight gain should not be ignored.
"Everything from late-night eating, lack of exercise, increased alcohol consumption and an abundance of all-you-can-eat dining halls leads college students to pack on the unwanted pounds," explained Kooi in a hospital news release. She added that gaining weight in college puts students at risk for chronic disease, including diabetes and heart disease.
Kooi said that there are several cost-effective ways college students can eat healthy and avoid gaining weight, including:
Keep healthy snacks handy. Dorm room refrigerators should be stocked with healthy, satisfying snacks, such as fruit, string cheese, Greek yogurt, hummus and baby carrots.
Drink water. Too many calories from sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages can lead to weight gain. These drinks can also cause spikes in blood sugar that can increase hunger.
Stay active. Exercise plays a key role in staying fit and healthy. Boost your daily activity levels by walking to class, going to the gym or participating in intramural sports.
Eat regular meals. Skipping meals can lead to overeating and weight gain. Eating breakfast can also jumpstart your metabolism and help you concentrate in class and on tests.
Get enough sleep. Sleeping less than six hours each night can affect hormone levels that control appetite, cravings and metabolism. People who do not get enough sleep often crave high-calorie junk food the body can quickly break down for energy.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about college health and safety.
SOURCE: The Methodist Hospital, Houston, news release, July 31, 2012