STUDY: The Freshman 15 Was Made Up By Seventeen Magazine

Admit it: you’ve totally taunted your little brother or sister about how much weight they’re going to gain during their first year of college, haven’t you? Well it turns out the dreaded Freshman 15, like a lot of stuff in the fashion industry, was all a lie created to sell magazines.

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According to a new study conducted at Ohio State University’s Center for Human Resource Research, only about ten percent of students in their first year of college actually gain the full 15 pounds. In fact, there are more freshman who lose weight than gain it — the study found that about 25 percent of college kids drop pounds their first year.

“We can no longer say that everyone who goes to college gets fat,” said Jay Zagorsky, who helped conduct the study. “Just a few people go to college and get fat.”

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Zing! Zagorsky says freshman who do put on extra padding often adopt unhealthy new habits, like binge drinking. The study also found that it doesn’t really matter if you go to a private school or a public school, if you’re in a two-year or four-year program, or even if you’re not going to college at all. The rate of weight gain in college is pretty much the same as it is in young adults who decide not to go.

And that’s because when you’re a young adult, your body is supposed to be changing. A doctor commenting on the story told WebMD, “Teens are not fully grown at age 17 or 18,” he says. “We would expect growth and weight gain during these years that have nothing to do with college.”

So why do we think that it does have something to do with college? Our friends at Jezebel point to the August 1989 issue of Seventeen, which had a bright yellow cover line that read, “FIGHTING THE FRESHMAN 15.” Whether or not it’s the first recorded use of the term is up for debate, but the researchers did note an increased use of this unkind term of art by the end of the 1990s. And instead of sending a message about healthy eating habits, it seemed to make kids headed off to school even more freaked out about what was going to happen to their bodies.

But now we know it was all a farce! So instead of making your college-bound friends and family worry over nothing, just tell them the truth: the only thing they really have to worry about is keeping up with their self-paced astronomy class.

[WebMD via Jezebel]

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