The Freshman 15: A Critical Time for
Obesity Intervention or Media Myth?∗
Jay L. Zagorsky, The Ohio State University
Patricia K. Smith, University of Michigan–Dearborn
Objectives. We test whether the phrase “Freshman 15” accurately describes weight
change among first-year college students. We also analyze freshmen’s weight change
duringandaftercollege. Methods. Thisisthefirstinvestigationofthe“Freshman15”
simulations, and longitudinal analysis. Results. Freshmen gain between 2.5 to 3.5
pounds, on average, over the course of their first year of college. Compared to same-
age noncollege attendees, the typical freshman gains only an additional half-pound.
Instead of a spike in weight during the freshman year, college-educated individuals
exhibit moderate but steady weight gain during and after college. Conclusion. Anti-
obesity efforts directed specifically at college freshmen will likely have little impact
on obesity prevalence among young adults.
Many college-bound students worry about the “Freshman 15,” the much
publicized notion that students tend to gain substantial weight during their
first year at college. This fear is partly based on the upward trend in the
average adult’s weight. Since the early 1970s, the U.S. adult obesity rate has
risen from about 14 percent of the population to nearly 35 percent (National
Center for Health Statistics, 2009). Stemming and reversing the obesity trend
is important because it could reduce public and private health-care costs and
improve labor productivity (Klarenbach et al., 2006; Thorpe, 2005; Tunceli,
Li, and Williams, 2006; Wee et al., 2005). One obesity prevention strategy
is to identify points in the lifecourse when weight gain is a particular risk
and to focus interventions on these critical periods. Since college freshmen
experience increased freedom over their diets, alcohol consumption, and sleep
patterns, this transitional year may be such a critical period (Baranowski et al.,
1997; Compas et al., 1986).
If the “Freshman 15” is a real phenomenon, then the first year of college
would be a time to focus efforts to encourage healthy lifestyle habits in order
to prevent obesity. If, however, the “Freshman 15” is a media myth, then
∗Direct correspondence to Patricia K. Smith, Department of Social Sciences, University of
Michigan–Dearborn, 4901 Evergreen Rd., Dearborn, MI 48128 ?firstname.lastname@example.org?. All
data and coding materials are available from the second named author at the mailing address
SOCIAL SCIENCE QUARTERLY, Volume 92, Number 5, December 2011
C ?2011 by the Southwestern Social Science Association
1390 Social Science Quarterly
focusing anti-obesity efforts on new college students will prove ineffective and
repeated warnings about weight gain may cause unnecessary worry or worsen
body image in ways that actually contribute to weight gain.
This article offers the first examination of the “Freshman 15” based on a
this analysis compares freshmen to similarly aged noncollege students. The
results indicate that the “Freshman 15” is generally a myth: students gain only
about three pounds on average during their first year in college. Furthermore,
change before, during, and after college shows steady weight gain in all three
time periods, not just during college.
Hovell et al. (1985) introduced the notion of significant weight gain dur-
ing the freshman year of college based on a small sample of women at a
private university. They found that the average female student gained eight
to nine pounds during the first year of college. The first article to use the
term “Freshman 15” appeared in 1989 in Seventeen Magazine, a publication
targeting young women (Watkins, 1989). During the 1980s, only a handful
of “Freshman 15” articles appeared each year, but beginning in the late 1990s
the number of such publications increased significantly (Brown, 2008). These
articles generally used the concept to motivate advice on how to avoid gaining
weight and about half of them did not refute or question the reality of the
dinal analyses of weight change among college freshmen have been published
(Table 1). While the early analyses focused on women, about half the extant
studies include men. Among those studies examining freshmen of both gen-
ders, all but one included more women than men in their samples. Overall,
this literature indicates that freshmen typically do gain weight, but not nearly
15 pounds. The observed average weight change runs from a minimum of
–1.5 to a maximum of 8.8 pounds, with a mean of 3.8 pounds. The two
studies that examined weight change by gender both report that freshmen
women gained half a pound more than their male counterparts. However, all
these studies used small single-campus samples and many were nonrandom,
limiting the generalizability of the results.
Researchers offer six basic theories for why freshmen might gain weight.
First, students may switch from eating more nutritious home-cooked foods
The Freshman 151391
Longitudinal Studies of Weight Change Over the Freshman Year
Hovell et al. (1985)
Hodge, Jackson, and Sullivan (1993)
Megel et al. (1994)
Holben, Hassell, and Holcomb (1998)
Graham and Jones (2002)
Anderson, Shapiro, and Lundgren (2003)
Butler et al. (2004)
Levitsky, Halbmaier, and Mrdjenovic,
Hajhosseini et al. (2006)
1392Social Science Quarterly
Hoffman et al. (2006)
Lowe et al. (2006)
Morrow et al. (2006)
Delinsky and Wilson (2008)
Economos, Hildebrandt, and Hyatt (2008)
Edmonds et al. (2008)
Holm-Denoma et al. (2008)
men + 3.5
Jung, Bray, and Ginis (2008)
Pliner and Saunders (2008)
Pullman et al. (2009)
The Freshman 151393
to caloric-dense institutional food (Pliner and Saunders, 2008). Second, the
lack of parental oversight means students are more likely to eat an unbalanced
diet. Although young adults not attending college who leave their parental
home may experience these same two phenomena, there is concern that col-
lege campuses with all-you-can-eat cafeterias and snack foods readily avail-
able in dorms may make this environment especially obesogenic (Baranowski
et al., 1997; Pliner and Saunders, 2008; Nelson et al., 2009). Third, college
expenses may strain budgets, potentially causing students to shift to cheaper,
higher-calorie foods (Drewnowski, 2004). Findings of the National College
Health Assessment are consistent with these theories: only 5 percent of college
students reported consuming the recommended amount of fruits and vegeta-
bles (American College Health Association, 2009). However, in samples of
individuals in their late teens, not just college students, researchers have also
observed declines in fruit and vegetable consumption (Demory-Luce et al.,
2004; Larson et al., 2007).
Increased stress caused by the transition from high school to college is
a fourth possible route to weight gain because chronic stress is associated
with biochemical changes that foster weight gain (Bj¨ orntorp, 2001; Drapeau
et al., 2003). Furthermore, students may cope with the additional stress by
eating high-calorie comfort foods (Dallman et al., 2003; Kandiah et al., 2006;
Wansink, Cheney, and Chan, 2003) and increasing alcohol consumption
(Wechsler and Nelson, 2008), especially those living on campus (Gfroerer,
Greenblatt, and Wright, 1997). Since most alcoholic drinks are calorie-dense,
this could lead to a substantial rise in calorie intake.
Assessment reports that only 10 percent of college students get “enough sleep
to feel rested in the morning” at least six days a week, while 48 percent get
enough sleep three to five days weekly (American College Health Association,
2009). Furthermore, students may use calorie-intensive caffeinated drinks to
help stay awake (Malinauskas et al., 2007; Shields, Corrales, and Metallionos-
Katsaras, 2004). The rise in the number of university libraries that offer coffee
shops may encourage this practice (Horovitz, 2007).
Finally, students’ level of physical activity may decrease from high school
to college since physical education requirements and participation in team
sports generally decline while study time increases. Observed trends in phys-
ical activity are consistent with this hypothesis (Gordon-Larson, Nelson, and
Popkin, 2004; Nelson et al., 2006). Notably, the Surgeon General found that
during the 1990s, the largest declines in physical activity took place during
late adolescence (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996). Al-
though the reduction in physical activity among young adults holds for both
college students and nonstudents, studying may require students to spend
more time in sedentary pursuits. The National College Health Assessment
1394Social Science Quarterly
found that only 19 percent of college students reported meeting the recom-
mended amount of moderate-intensity physical activity (American College
Health Association, 2009).
This research investigates freshman weight gain using data from the Na-
tional Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 cohort (NLSY97) by employing
descriptive statistics, linear regressions, simulations, and longitudinal analysis.
living in the United States in 1997 and born between 1980 and 1984. As of
2011, the NLSY97 has interviewed the same people annually 14 times and
publicly released 12 rounds of data. All data used in this research are available
online at ?www.bls.gov/nls/nlsy97.htm?.
The NLSY97 panel consists of two groups: a nationally representative sam-
ple of 6,748 youths and a supplemental oversample of 2,236 black and His-
panic youth. Since results are more precise using both groups, they are com-
bined using the methods outlined in the NLSY97 User Guide.1All descriptive
tables and graphs use data adjusted for the sampling structure using the 1997
baseline weight (variable R12361.01). This weighting ensures that the charac-
teristics of the oversampled respondents do not unduly influence the results.
Regressions do not use weighted data; instead, they are adjusted by explicitly
adding control variables that account for oversampled respondents.
Table 2 provides a demographic overview of the respondents using infor-
mation from the 2007 interview, which were the latest data available when
this research was conducted. Column (1) shows that during 2007, respon-
dents ranged in age from 22 to 28, with the typical respondent being nearly
25 years old, and were about evenly divided between men and women. Sev-
enty percent of the cohort is white, 16 percent is black, and almost 13 percent
is Hispanic. The majority (89.3 percent) have graduated from high school
or obtained a GED and more than 60 percent have started college. About
one-third have married and about one in 20 (4.5 percent) have divorced. The
typical respondent worked 39.2 weeks in the past year and nearly 17 percent
lived in poverty. Median family income, measured as the sum of all incomes
than $45,000. Finally, a substantial number (37 percent) live in the southern
U.S. Census region.
Columns (2) and (3) of Table 2 disaggregate the demographic and socioe-
conomic data by gender. Although the demographic characteristics do not
differ much by gender, most of the socioeconomic characteristics do. Women
in the sample have more education, a higher chance of being married, and a
higher chance of being divorced. Women are also more likely to be poor and
The Freshman 151395
Demographic and Socioeconomic Characteristics of NLSY97
Respondents in 2007
Live in South
Weeks work in
$45,015$45,000 $45,525$37,500 $51,265
7,418 3,7353,683 3,0094,409
significant at the 5 percent level. Data are for all respondents who completed the 2007
interview and are weighted using R12361.01. Age is the respondent’s age on the day of the
interview. Age, race, and gender are based on the NLSY97 variables T00085.00, R14826.00,
and R05363.00, respectively. High school graduate is based on T00146.00. Started college
is based on checking the monthly college enrollment status array, which starts at variable
R95970.00, and checking if the respondent ever enrolled. Marital status indicators are based
on T00255.00. Geographic data are based on T00094.00. The start and stop dates of every
job reported by the respondent are tracked in the NLSY97. Using this job history information,
the authors created “weeks worked in the past year.” Median family income is taken from
∗∗in the category column indicates that the gender differences are statistically
live in the South and report fewer hours worked, but somewhat higher family
income. Columns (4) and (5) break the sample down by college attendance.
College attendees are more likely to be white, female, and have a dramatically
higher family income than those who do not attend college.
A key module of the NLSY97 tracks the respondent’s college experi-
ence. This module not only asks about the specific start and stop dates of
1396Social Science Quarterly
respondents’ college attendance, but also gathers information on where they
attended, funding, and living arrangements. This analysis uses the respon-
dents’ month-by-month college enrollment status,2which shows the particu-
lar months a respondent attended college starting in January 1997. Because
83 (about 1 percent) of the survey’s high school students took some college
college enrollments that occurred before a respondent obtained a high school
diploma or GED.
The majority of NLSY97 respondents started college at age 18 (58.2 per-
cent). Significantly fewer people started at age 17 (7.8 percent) and almost
no one started college before 17 (0.4 percent). About one-fifth (18.4 percent)
started at age 19 and the rest (15.2 percent) started at age 20 or older. Thus,
this analysis primarily tracks the experiences of 17 to 19 year olds.
Each wave of the NLSY97 asks respondents to report their weight. Re-
sponse rates to weight questions are high, with the greatest nonresponse (3
percent) occurring in 1997. Response rates improved slightly over time, with
just 2.3 percent of respondents not answering the question by 2007. In addi-
tion to nonresponse, 60 observations were eliminated because the respondent
reported weighing less than 26 pounds.3
figures contain errors and biases; girls tend to underestimate their weight
compared to boys and overweight youth underestimate their weight more
than those of normal weight. However, they note that there is a “lack of
are consistent in their biases from year to year, this kind of measurement error
vary over time, result quality will be diminished.
Since the specific self-reporting bias for college students has not been re-
searched, we analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Exam-
ination Survey (NHANES) 2007–2008, following Rowland (1990).4The
NHANES contains self-reported and clinically measured weight. Comparing
these two variables for people aged 17 to 22 reporting a college education
shows the average college male underestimates his weight by half a pound or
less (mean 0.5 pounds; median 0.2). The average college female underesti-
mates her weight by two to three pounds (mean 3.3 pounds; median 1.8).
Rowland (1990) provides a regression framework to adjust for bias in self-
reported weight. Applying this framework to the 2007–2008 NHANES data
for college students shows that males’ self-reported weights need to be inflated
regressions analyses in this research using these adjustments produces almost
2Enrollment status items start with variable R95970.00.
3The removal of college women who were pregnant during their freshman year had no
qualitative or quantitative impact on the findings. They were left in the final sample to ease
replication of the results.
The Freshman 15 1397
the same results, which matches the findings in Zagorsky and Smith (2009).
Since the adjusted and unadjusted analyses are so similar, only unadjusted
figures are reported to ease replication.
by-month series using a cubic-spline interpolation if possible and a linear
interpolation otherwise. An appendix is available upon request that contains a
full description of the interpolation methods and shows that the interpolated
and noninterpolated results produce the same conclusions.
Four types of results are presented. First, a set of descriptive results tracks
mean and median weight changes. Second, multivariate regressions are run
race, and college experience. Third, simulations estimate the difference in
weight gain between young adults attending and not attending college. Lastly,
a longitudinal analysis examines weight change during and after college.
Freshmen women gained slightly more than three pounds and men gained
three and a half pounds, on average (Columns (1) and (2) in Table 3). Median
males gaining 3.4. No more than 10 percent of college freshmen gained 15
25 percent of college freshmen reported losing weight during their first year.
These results suggest that the “Freshman 15” is largely a myth.
Columns (3) and (4) of Table 3 report total weight gain during all years of
college for students who graduated. These columns indicate that the average
student does not gain 15 pounds over the course of his or her entire university
career. Instead, the typical female gained between seven to nine pounds (me-
and 13 pounds from start to finish (median 12.1 pounds; mean 13.4 pounds).
Although students did not gain much weight their freshman year, they did
accumulatemore overtheir college careers. Evenso,the typicalstudentgained
less than 15 pounds while in college.
Since the college experience is not homogenous, Table 4 shows how fresh-
man weight gain varies across five factors: full-time versus part-time status;
two-year versus four-year degree; private versus public institution; lived in a
dormitory or elsewhere; and heavy drinking status (consuming six or more
drinks on at least four days per month). Women attending college full time
gain for females going part-time, although this difference is not statistically
1398 Social Science Quarterly
Weight Gain in College by Gender
NOTE:∗∗∗means the gender figures are statistically distinct at the 1 percent level.
College Freshman Year Mean Weight Gain in Pounds by Key Characteristics
SDN Weight GainSDN
Never live in dorm
Ever live in dorm
Not heavy drinker
NOTE:∗∗means the pair of figures is statistically distinct at the 5 percent level.
significant. For freshmen women, two factors exhibit statistically significant
differences in weight gain. First, those at two-year institutions gained al-
most a pound more than their counterparts at four-year institutions (3.6 vs.
2.8 pounds). Second, freshmen women who ever lived in a dorm gained
about 1 pound less than those who never lived in a dorm (2.7 vs. 3.5 pounds).
This latter result contradicts the hypothesis that the dorm environment is
The Freshman 151399
The two largest differences in Table 4 concern men living in a dorm com-
pared to those living in a noncampus setting and male heavy drinkers versus
nonheavy drinkers. Although the difference between drinking categories (4.1
vs. 3.2 pounds) is not statistically significant at the 5 percent level, it is signifi-
pounds, on average, while men who never lived in a dorm gained 3 pounds, a
for women, these findings support the hypothesis that the dorm environment
and heavy drinking encourage weight gain among freshmen men.
Multivariate Linear Regression Results
We next conduct regression analysis of weight gain using the characteristics
presented in Table 4 and additional demographic factors such as age, gender,
and race/ethnicity. Table 5 presents the ordinary least squares (OLS) estimates
of the association between each characteristic and weight change for indi-
viduals who ever reported attending college, while controlling for the other
Regression (1) of Table 5 focuses on the freshman year. Except for the
coefficients on heavy drinkers and Hispanics, the estimated coefficients are
not statistically distinguishable from zero. In particular, the regression results
do not support the hypothesis that the dorm environment encourages weight
gain during the freshman year. Even though the heavy drinker coefficient is
marginally statistically significant, its magnitude suggests a relatively small
effect, a weight increase less than one pound.
Regression (2) of Table 5 also examines freshman-year weight gain and
includes the additional socioeconomic factors found at the bottom of Table
2, such as marital status, income, and poverty. Instead of using just the 2007
data, these extra factors correspond to what happened to respondents during
their freshman year. None have statistically significant coefficients, suggesting
that none of the socioeconomic factors help explain weight change over the
Regressions (3) and (4) of Table 5 show each characteristic’s association
with the weight change from the start to end of college for graduates. The
coefficients on YEARS IN COLLEGE indicate that respondents gain an average
of three pounds per year after controlling for the other characteristics. The
results again offer no support for the hypothesis that living in a dorm en-
courages weight gain. In contrast to the freshman-year results, heavy drinking
no longer exhibits a statistically significant association with weight gain. This
suggests that while alcohol consumption may contribute to some weight gain
among freshmen, it is not associated with weight gain among students in
general. Also, students attending two-year institutions gain about two pounds
more than students in four-year institutions over their college careers and
1400 Social Science Quarterly
women tend to gain less weight than men, on average.5The only statisti-
cally significant socioeconomic variable in Regression (4) is weeks worked;
each additional week of work is associated with a nearly half-pound rise in
Simulations: Weight Gain of Freshmen Versus Young Adults Not
While the typical student entering college gains about three pounds the
first year, it is important to determine whether this increase results from the
transition to college or if it is typical of people in this age group regardless of
college attendance. Weight-for-age growth charts produced by the Centers for
females in general rises from ages 17 to 20. Anthropologists report that males
typically experience a spurt in muscle mass growth around age 17 (Bogin,
1999:216), which could account for the greater weight gain of freshman
males relative to freshman females. Nelson et al. (2008) argue that ages 18 to
25 mark an important transitional period in human development, which they
call “emerging adulthood,” that may place individuals at risk of weight gain
regardless of their college-attendance status.
Because most people start college at age 18 we first focus on respondents
aged 18 to 19 years. The NLSY97 data show that between ages 18 and
19, women who attended college gained 3.55 pounds (mean) while women
who never attended gained 3.54 pounds, a statistically insignificant differ-
ence. Among males, the mean college attendee gained 5.53 pounds (SD 12.3)
from ages 18 to 19, while nonattendees gained 4.49 pounds (SD 14.8), a
statistically significant difference at the 5 percent level. These results sug-
gest that the college environment itself is not a contributor to weight gain
among young women, but may contribute to some weight gain among young
Since over 40 percent of college attendees do not start college at age 18, a
more accurate weight comparison was conducted using a simulation. In the
simulation, each person who never attended college was randomly assigned
the college starting age of an NLSY97 respondent who did. The nonattendee’s
weight gain from the randomly selected starting age to 12 months later was
then calculated. This simulation was then run 10,000 times for each nonat-
tendee. The results show females not attending college gained slightly more
than two pounds over their simulated first year (2.00 median; 2.52 mean,
SD 8.4, 1,494 observations). Males who did not go to college gained about
three pounds (2.94 median; 3.18 mean, SD 8.4, 2,151 observations) over
their simulated first year. Comparing the simulated values with actual college
5Including data on the specific year a respondent started college did not change the results
since the coefficients on this variable were not statistically significant in any regression.
The Freshman 15 1401
Regression Results for College Students with Standard Errors
Ever live in dorm
Years in college
Living in poverty
Living in South
level, respectively. The number of respondents is lower in Columns (2) and (4) because not
all NLSY97 respondents reported their income. Income is measured in $1,000 increments.
∗,∗∗, and∗∗∗means statistically distinct at the 10 percent, 5 percent, and 1 percent
attendees’ weight change (Table 3) shows the average person going to college
gains an extra half-pound during the first year, compared to a similarly aged
nonstudent. These simulations suggest that the college experience does not
contribute much to weight gain among young men and women.
1402Social Science Quarterly
Annual Median Weight Gain Before, During, and After College
Weight Gain In Pounds
NOTES: Computations based on the NLSY97. The number of respondents varies by group
and years. For example, the N for the combined categories’ six end points are: five years
before 1,837, one year before 4,827, one year during 4,689, five years during 1,972, one
year after 3,033, and five years after 599.
Because the NLSY97 is a panel survey that interviews the same respondents
the median weight change per year before, during, and after going to college
among people who ever attended college. The figure’s left-hand side, which
tracks weight the five years before college, is calculated by extracting each
respondent’s weight 12, 24, 36, 48, and 60 months before the date college was
started, when the typical NLSY97 respondent was 13 years old. Weight gain
during this time period is expected because respondents are still physically
developing. The amount of weight gained before a respondent begins higher
education tapers off as college approaches. The typical respondent gained 8.8
pounds five years before college, but in the year before college, respondents
gained only 3.1 pounds.
The middle part of Figure 1 shows that during the freshman year, col-
lege students gained on average (median) 2.76 pounds. Second-year students
gained 2.0 pounds, while students in college more than two years gained
slightly less than 2 pounds more per year. The right-hand side of the figure
shows that respondents continued to gain weight in the five years after leaving
The Freshman 151403
college.6In the first four years after college, the typical respondent gained
another 1.5 pounds per year. Median weight gain in the fifth year rose to 2.2
pounds, but this extra weight gain might be imprecisely measured since the
sample size of 599 respondents is between a half and one-fifth smaller than
any other data point on this graph.
Figure 1 reveals that college students do not face an elevated risk of obe-
sity because they gain a large amount of weight during their freshman year.
Instead, these college-educated individuals have moderate but steady weight
gain throughout early adulthood. Anyone who continually gains 1.5 pounds
annually will become obese over time, no matter their initial weight.
This research used a large nationally representative sample (NLSY97) to
examine whether the “Freshman 15,” the notion that college freshmen tend
to gain a significant amount of weight, has any empirical support. Our results
indicate that the “Freshman 15” is a media myth. While freshmen do gain
weight, the observed average increase of 2.5 to 3.5 pounds falls far short of the
ominous 15 pounds. Furthermore, among respondents ages 18 to 19, those
This study has implications for media reporting on weight issues among
young adults. Repeated use of the phrase “the Freshman 15,” even if it is being
ception of being overweight, especially among young women. Several studies
find that increased exposure to media conveying thinness as an ideal is associ-
ated with greater body dissatisfaction (Posavac, Posavac, and Posavac, 1998),
increased negative emotions and self-objectification (Roberts and Gettman,
2004), and more eating disorder symptoms (Vaughn and Fouts, 2003). We
recommend that media reports and campus communications reframe articles
from concern about weight gain or overweight status to general healthy living
or fitness tips and, when using the phrase “Freshman 15,” articles should
clearly state that this phenomenon has little scientific basis.
The results also suggest that the transition to college is not a critical point
in the lifecourse in terms of weight gain, so directing government resources to
is not a cost-effective approach to addressing the nation’s high obesity rate.
The problem is not that college students gain substantial weight during their
freshman year, it is that individuals gain weight steadily during and after
college. Since college is a time for learning, it is an opportune period to
6The month ending college was the last month the respondent attended any type or level
of college. No distinction was made between full- and part-time studies or undergraduate and
1404 Social Science Quarterly
teach young adults about proper nutrition, healthy cooking, optimal portion
sizes, and appropriate levels of physical activity. However, young adults not
attending college also need such guidance so policymakers also need to think
about how to best reach this group as well.
American College Health Association. 2009. American College Health Association—National
College Health Assessment II: Reference Group Data Report Fall 2008. Baltimore, MD: American
College Health Association.
Anderson, D., J. Shapiro, and J. Lundgren. 2003. “The Freshman Year of College as a Critical
Period for Weight Gain: An Initial Evaluation.” Eating Behaviors 4:363–67.
Baranowski, T., K. Cullen, K. Basen-Engquist, D. Wetter, S. Cummings, D. Martineau, A.
Time of Increased Cancer Risk.” Preventive Medicine 26(5):694–703.
Bj¨ orntorp, P. 2001. “Do Stress Reactions Cause Abdominal Obesity and Comorbidities?”
Obesity Reviews 2:73–86.
Bogin, B. 1999. Patterns of Human Growth. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Brown, C. 2008. “The Information Trail of the ‘Freshman 15’—A Systematic Review of a
Health Myth Within the Research and Popular Literature.” Health Information and Libraries
Butler, S., D. Black, C. Blue, and R. Gretebeck. 2004. “Change in Diet, Physical Activity, and
Body Weight in Female College Freshmen.” American Journal of Health Behavior 28(1):24–32.
Carskadon, M. 1990. “Patterns of Sleep and Sleepiness in Adolescents.” Pediatrician 17:5–12.
Compas,B.,B.Wagner,L.Slavin, andK.Vannatta. 1986.“A ProspectiveStudyofLifeEvents,
Social Support, and Psychological Symptomatology During the Transition from High School
to College.” American Journal of Community Psychology 14(3):241–57.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 100(20):11696–11701.
Delinsky, S., and G. Wilson. 2008. “Weight Gain, Dietary Restraint, and Disordered Eating
in the Freshman Year of College.” Eating Behaviors 9:82–90.
Demory-Luce, D., M. Morales, T. Nicklas, T. Baranowski, I. Zakeri, and G. Berenson. 2004.
“Changes in Food Group Consumption Patterns from Childhood to Young Adulthood: The
Bogalusa Heart Study.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 104:1684–91.
Drapeau, V., D. Therrien, D. Richard, and A. Tremblay. 2003. “Is Visceral Obesity a Physio-
logical Adaptation to Stress?” Panminerva Medica 45:189–95.
Drewnowski, A. 2004. “Obesity and the Food Environment: Dietary Energy Density and Diet
Costs.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 27(3) Suppl:154–62.
Economos, C., L. Hildebrandt, and R. Hyatt. 2008. “College Freshman Stress and Weight
Change: Differences by Gender.” American Journal of Health Behavior 32(1):16–25.
Edmonds, M., K. Ferreira, N. Nikiforuk, A. Finnie, S. Leavey, A. Duncan, and J. Simp-
son. 2008. “Body Weight and Percent Body Fat Increase During the Transition from
High School to University in Females.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 108:
The Freshman 151405
Gfroerer, J., J. Greenblatt, and D. Wright. 1997. “Substance Use in the U.S. College-Age
Population: Differences According to Educational Status and Living Arrangement.” American
Journal of Public Health 87(1):62–65.
Gordon-Larsen, P., M. Nelson, and B. Popkin. 2004. “Longitudinal Physical Activity and
Graham, M., and A. Jones. 2002. “Freshman 15: Valid Theory or Harmful Myth?” Journal of
American College Health 50(4):171–73.
University Freshmen Students.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 25(2):123–27.
Hasler, G., D. Buysse, R. Klaghofer, A. Gamma, V. Ajdacic, D. Eich, W. R¨ ossler, and J. Angst.
Prospective Study.” Sleep 27(4):661–66.
Hicks, R., C. Fernandez, and R. Pellegrini. 2001. “Striking Changes in the Sleep Satisfaction
of University Students Over the Last Two Decades.” Perceptual and Motor Skills 93:660.
Hodge, C., L. Jackson, and L. Sullivan. 1993. “The ‘Freshman 15’: Facts and Fantasies About
Weight Gain in College Women.” Psychology of Women Quarterly 17:119–26.
Hoffman, D., P. Policastro, V. Quick, and S. Lee. 2006. “Changes in Body Weight and Fat
Mass of Men and Women in the First Year of College: A Study of the ‘Freshman 15’.” Journal
of American College Health 55(1):41–45.
Holben, D., J. Hassell, and J. Holcomb. 1998. “College Freshmen Do Not Eat Within Food
Pyramid Guidelines.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 98(9):A-51.
Holm-Denoma, J., T. Joiner, K. Vohs, and T. Heatherton. 2008. “The ‘Freshman Fifteen’
(The ‘Freshman Five’ Actually): Predictors and Possible Explanations.” Health Psychology 27(1,
in University Women: A Three-Year Community Controlled Analysis.” Addictive Behaviors
Jung, M., S. Bray, and K. Ginis. 2008. “Behavior Change and the Freshman 15: Tracking
Physical Activity and Dietary Patterns in 1st-Year University Women.” Journal of American
College Health 56(5):523–30.
Kandiah, J., M. Yake, J. Jones, and M. Meyer. 2006. “Stress Influences Appetite and Comfort
Food Preferences in College Women.” Nutrition Research 26:118–23.
Klarenbach, S., R. Padwal, A. Chuck, and P. Jacobs. 2006. “Population-Based Analysis of
Obesity and Workforce Participation.” Obesity 14:920–27.
Larson, N., D. Neumark-Sztainer, P. Hannan, and M. Story. 2007. “Trends in Adolescent
Fruit and Vegetable Consumption, 1999–2004.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine
Levitsky, D., C. Halbmaier, and G. Mrdjenovic. 2004. “The Freshman Weight Gain: A Model
for the Study of the Obesity Epidemic.” International Journal of Obesity 28:1435–42.
Lowe, M., R. Annunziato, J. Markowitz, E. Didie, D. Bellace, L. Riddell, C. Maille, S.
McKinney, and E. Stice. 2006. “Multiple Types of Dieting Prospectively Predict Weight Gain
During the Freshman Year of College.” Appetite 47:83–90.
1406 Social Science Quarterly
Malinauskas, B., V. Aeby, R. Overton, T. Carpenter-Aeby, and K. Barber-Heidal. 2007. “A
Survey of Energy Drink Consumption Patterns Among College Students.” Nutrition Journal
Megel, M., P. Hawkins, S. Sandstrom, M. Hoefler, and K. Willrett. 1994. “Health Pro-
motion, Self-Esteem, and Weight Among Female College Freshmen.” Health Values 18(4):
Morrow, M., K. Heesch, M. Dinger, H. Hull, A. Kneehans, and D. Fields. 2006. “Freshman
15: Fact or Fiction?” Obesity 14(8):1438–43.
National Center for Health Statistics. 2009. Health United States, 2008 with Chartbook. Hy-
attsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.
Nelson, M., R. Kocos, L. Lytle, and C. Perry. 2009. “Understanding the Perceived Determi-
Youth.” Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior 41(4):287–92.
Nelson, M., D. Neumark-Sztainer, P. Hannan, J. Sirard, and M. Story. 2006. “Longitudinal
hood and College-Aged Youth: An Overlooked Age for Weight-Related Behavior Change.”
Pliner, P., and T. Saunders. 2008. “Vulnerability to Freshman Weight Gain as a Function of
Dietary Restraint and Residence.” Physiology & Behavior 93:76–82.
Posavac, H., S. Posavac, and E. Posavac. 1998. “Exposure to Media Images of Female At-
tractiveness and Concern with Body Weight Among Young Women.” Sex Roles 38(3/4):
Pullman, A., R. Masters, L. Zalot, L. Carde, M. Saraiva, Y. Dam, J. Simpson, and A. Duncan.
2009. “Effect of the Transition from High School to University on Anthropometric and
Lifestyle Variables in Males.” Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism 34:1–10.
of Priming a State of Self-Objectification.” Sex Roles 51(1/2):17–27.
Height and Weight in Assessing Overweight Status. A Literature Review.” Archives of Pediatrics
& Adolescent Medicine 161(12):1154–61.
Shields, D., K. Corrales, and E. Metallinos-Katsaras. 2004. “Gourmet Coffee Beverage Con-
Spiegel, K., E. Tasali, P. Penev, and E. Van Cauter. 2004. “Sleep Curtailment in Healthy
Young Men is Associated with Decreased Leptin Levels, Elevated Ghrelin Levels, and Increased
Hunger and Appetite.” Annals of Internal Medicine 141(11):846–50.
Thorpe, K. 2005. “The Rise in Health Care Spending and What to Do About It.” Health
Tunceli, K., K. Li, and L. Williams. 2006. “Long-Term Effects of Obesity on Employment
and Work Limitations Among U.S. Adults, 1986 to 1999.” Obesity 14:1637–46.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 1996. Physical Activity and Health: A Report
of the Surgeon General. Washington, DC: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, National
Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
The Freshman 15 1407 Download full-text
Vaughn, K., and G. Fouts. 2003. “Changes in Television and Magazine Exposure and Eating
Disorder Symptomatology.” Sex Roles 49(7/8):313–20.
Wansink, B., M. Cheney, and N. Chan. 2003. “Exploring Comfort Food Preferences Across
Age and Gender.” Physiology & Behavior 79:739–47.
Watkins, T. 1989. “Fight the Freshman 15.” Seventeen 48:162.
Health College Alcohol Study: Focusing Attention on College Student Alcohol Consumption
and the Environmental Conditions that Promote It.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Wee, C., R. Phillips, A. Legedza, R. Davis, J. Soukup, G. Colditz, and M. Hamel. 2005.
“Health Care Expenditures Associated with Overweight and Obesity Among U.S. Adults:
Importance of Age and Race.” American Journal of Public Health 95(1):159–65.
Zagorsky, J., and P. Smith. 2009. “Does the U.S. Food Stamp Program Contribute to Adult
Weight Gain?” Economics and Human Biology 7:246–58.