Most parents have heard about the infamous Freshman 15, or the number of pounds that students typically gain in their first year of college. If you are the parent of young adult who is a freshman it’s disconcerting to send them off to gain weight. However it may alleviate your fears to know that in 2009 a review of 30 studies (Nutrition Reviews, Vol. 67(2):83–94) showed that the number of pounds students actually gained in freshman year varied greatly and was often much less than the 15 commonly cited by the media.
That said, this review did identify factors that can affect a freshman’s weight. Decreased physical activity is a prevalent factor associated with weight gain for freshman. So if your new college student calls and is stressed over their workload ask them about campus gym facilities and encourage them to use them. Many studies have made the connection between physical activity and academic success, and the calorie burning is an additional benefit! Offer to help your student with time management, and suggest they take frequent brain breaks when studying. Getting up and walking the halls for a few minutes gets the blood moving to their brain and helps them THINK better.