UT University Health Services

Freshman 15

Many students have concerns about their weight during college, especially during the freshman year. The term "Freshman 15" suggests that students are likely to gain 15 pounds during their first year of college, but research shows that the typical weight gain during the freshman year is actually closer to 5 pounds or less.

Moderate weight gain between the ages of 18-23 is quite normal since this is the time that the adult body develops and settles at its natural "set point" weight. Fighting this natural shift in weight by restricting intake and/or dieting can lead to unwanted health consequences (for example: binge eating behaviors, chronic weight cycling, and disordered eating).

Unexplained and/or rapid weight gain throughout college may be a sign of poor health and nutrition decisions.

Reasons for rapid weight gain include:

  • Erratic sleeping and eating patterns
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Decreased activity level compared to high school
  • Pressures of college leading to stress eating
  • Skipping breakfast
  • Greater access to energy dense foods
  • Poor variety or overall diet


The Freshman 15: A Critical Time for Obesity Intervention or Media Myth?
The Freshman 15: Is it Real?
The Origin of the 'Freshman 15' Myth

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Additional Nutrition Topics
Registered Dietitian Consultations
Mindful Eating Program
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Hunger and food insecurity - UT Outpost

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