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The Globe and Mail

Dreaded 'freshman 15' is a myth, study finds

College students fretting about that supposedly inevitable arrival of first-year flab have been worrying for nothing - according to a new study.

That dreaded Freshman 15 is actually about 2.4 pounds for women and 3.4 pounds for men - barely enough to tighten those skinny jeans.

According to the U.S. study, which analyzed national survey data from more than 7,000 people, college freshman actually gained only about half a pound more than than their peers who didn't attend college at all.

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What's more, researchers found that over the four years of university, students did gain weight - but even that didn't total 15 pounds. Women gained, on average, seven pounds, and men put on between 12 and 13 pounds.

But a quarter of students lost weight in their first year, Reuters reported. And despite what is commonly believed, living in residence (with its bountiful meal plan) didn't have a major impact on weight gain.

"Not only is there no a 'Freshman 15,' there doesn't even appear to be a 'college 15," said the study's co-author, Jay Zagorksy, a researcher at the Centre for Human Resource Research at the Ohio State University.

The study was published in the journal Social Science Quarterly. It used the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which began interviewing American youth in 1997 and continues each year to survey the same people.

But what about all that partying, you might ask?

As it turned out, heavy drinking was the only significant factor in weight gain. But even the most boozy student put on less than a pound more than their non-drinking peers.

What do you think - is it fact or fiction? Did you or your kids experience the freshman 15?

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About the Author

Erin Anderssen writes about mental health, social policy and family issues. More

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