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Body Weight Change in First-Year College Students

Introduction

Weight gain in human beings is a very slow process caused by a slow insidious imbalance in energy levels which has caused an overweight crisis in America (New York Times, 2).

Persistent increase in positive energy balance occurs mainly in first year’s college students and this increasingly visible phenomenon is called the freshmen fifteen.

This research study aims at quantifying the change in the bodyweight of first-year college students during their initial semester and analyzing some of the issues linked to an increase in their body weight.

The purpose of the research was to analyze the change in body weight in first-year college students during their initial semester at Balarat University in Brisbane and to investigate some of the factors that cause a significant increase in the body weight of first-year college students.

Background information

Kinesiologist Steve Bray of Ontario McMaster University claims that people start slowing down in their lives the moment they join college mainly because first-year college students rarely participate in exercises and their activity level is less before they joined college.

This is mainly caused by increased academic demands and the absence of organized sporting activities. Joining college ushers the freshmen into a new world with lesser rules and since college is the first significant transition in their lives, they take advantage of the relaxed rules and immense freedom and one of the aspects of life that suffers most is body fitness.

Research published by the journal of eating behaviors indicates that first-year female students’ gain more that seven pounds during their first semester in college and this comes along with a drop in muscle mass caused by long periods of inactivity and increased consumption of alcohol.

Change from health to fast foods is another cause of the freshman fifteen phenomenons and another study showed that more than seventy percent of fresh college students do not match the federal dietary requirements especially where it concerns intake of vegetables and fruits (Miller, 2).

Further research has indicated that first-year college students who add weight during their initial semester add more weight during the subsequent semesters and this trend continues till the end of college and spills over to their life after college(Lewinsky,1440). People who are overweight at such an advanced age are more likely to be obese in their adulthood.

Important Facts

Experts in health and fitness have suggested some practices that freshmen can adapt to avoid being overweight. To start with, they should watch their alcohol consumption habits because alcohol compromises the ability of the body to burn off calories that cause weight problems (Katzmarzyk, 670). They should moderate their intake of alcohol.

The students should also ensure that their dietary conform to the federal dietary requirements by eating healthy foods regularly. They should not skip meals to gain weight because the body reacts by creating a craving that makes the students to eat foods full of energy and fats and these foods are responsible for their sudden weight gain.

When they are stressed or depressed, they should drown their sorrows by exercising and not by eating lots of calorie laden foods in search of emotional comfort (Jeffery, 287).

Enough hours of sleep are also important in maintenance of weight because research has fond out that college students who sleep less than five hours daily release more hunger inducing hormones that their counterparts who sleep at least eight hours daily.

Research Hypothesis

Research hypothesis postulates that prevalence of obesity and overweight issues is growing significantly among people between the age of 18 and 28 and most of them are people who are either in college or have just graduated from college.

Research methods

This research was carried out using various research methods and one of the mostly used was questionnaire. Participants in this study were draw from Balarat University in Brisbane and the study was commissioned by the Balarat University committee of human subjects.

The researchers explained to the students the intention and the scope of this study and they all consented before the research involving 89 students begun. The 89 students who participated in the exercise had their weight taken before they completed the initial questionnaire. The second measure was taken after three weeks and the third one was taken a week before the end of the first semester.

There were two sets of questionnaires administered and the first one looked for information about the lifestyles of these freshers during their high school years. The second set investigated their dietary habits and their fitness practices during the previous college sessions.

Research findings

The research identified various variables that accounted for more than sixty percent of the weight variance and the two leading variable that contributed to increase in weight gain were increased consumption of fast foods and evening snacks and increase in consumption of alcohol among the students(Dryden,2). Other variables include recent dieting habits, skipping meals and poor intake of vegetables and fruits. It was also found that a dramatic change of environment during the last one decade has also contributed to the overweight crisis in college freshmen.

Summary

This paper been looking at the freshman 15 phenomenon and various factors that lead to weight gain among first year college students. The research found out that that people start slowing down in their lives the moment they join college mainly because first year college students rarely participate exercises and their activity level is less before they joined college. It also found out that they take advantage of the relaxed rules and immense freedom and one of the aspects of life that suffers most is body fitness. According to this research female students’ gain more that seven pounds during their first semester in college and this comes along with a drop in muscle mass caused by long periods of inactivity and increased consumption of alcohol. This study also found out that seventy percent of fresh college students do not match the federal dietary requirements especially where it concerns intake of vegetables and fruits (Miller, 2). It is also important to note that first-year college students who add weight during their initial semester add more weight during the subsequent semesters and this trend continues till the end of college and spills over to their life after college (Lewinsky, 1440).

This study also gave some recommendations that would enable the first years to address weight issues. One of the recommendations is that the freshmen should watch their alcohol consumption habits because alcohol compromises the ability of the body to burn off calories that cause weight problems. They should also ensure that their dietary conform to the federal dietary requirements by eating healthy foods regularly. The students should not skip meals to gain weight because the body reacts by creating a craving that makes the students to eat foods full of energy and fats and these foods are responsible for their sudden weight gain. When the students are stressed or depressed, they should drown their sorrows by exercising and not by eating lots of calorie laden foods in search of emotional comfort (Jeffery, 287). Finally, they should ensure that they have enough sleep because research has fond out that college students who sleep less than five hours daily release more hunger inducing hormones that their counterparts who sleep at least eight hours daily.

Works Cited

Dryden, Jim. Study finds most students gain weight during early college years. Web.

Jeffery, Ron. Epidemic obesity in the United States: Are fast foods and television viewing contributing? Journal of Public Health. 1998; 88: 277–280.

Katzmarzyk, Peter. The Canadian obesity epidemic: an historical perspective. Obesity Resolution Journal. 2002; 10: 666–674.

Lewinsky, Adam. The freshman weight gain: a model for the study of the epidemic of obesity. International Journal of Obesity (2004) 28, 1435–1442.

Miller, Bryan. Health. Web.

New York Times. Stuck on the couch. Web.

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