New study dubs freshman 15 a myth

The worry of most first-year students, the freshman 15, may soon be disproved with the help of Amanda Price, a third-year doctoral student in exercise physiology.
“The Freshmen 15 is a myth,” Price said about the weight gain sometimes caused by stress during the first year of college. “Students actually gain 3-5 pounds, including those who gain, lose and maintain their weight, during their first year of college.”
For her Ph.D. dissertation, Price is exploring the implications of weight gain for college women, especially freshmen. Price has been at UM since 2006.
“Given that I had been a college student for seven years, I wanted to give back to the well being of the UM community by introducing this intervention at UM first,” she said.
As part of her study, she directs the T.H.I.N.K. College Edition program designed for freshmen women to learn how to make healthier lifestyle choices. T.H.I.N.K., which stands for Translational Health in Nutrition and Kinesiology, has been an intervention program focused on children’s wellness for the past four years. But this year, it will include college students.
An eight-week intervention program that educates participants on an array of topics from nutrition to body image, T.H.I.N.K. helps participants learn about available, on-campus resources that can help have a healthy lifestyle such as community wellness programs, intramurals and group exercise classes.
The initiative began on Sept. 17 when the School of Education and Human Development and the Wellness Center joined forces to prepare up to 200 students to combat the Freshman 15.
This program is targeted only for freshmen girls of all fitness levels from athletic to the less athletic. Once the girls register for the program, they pick one out of the possible three sessions to meet with Price. They are required to meet at least once a week for eight weeks. The program adheres to the student’s schedules by allowing two missed sessions.
The program has less than 50 freshmen signed up, but Price would like to have a lot more taking part. This upcoming week will be the last week of recruitment for the program.
According to Price, there is still time to join.
Freshmen who joined the T.H.I.N.K. – College program said it is a good opportunity to learn how to stay healthy.
“I chose to do the program because I love to learn about nutrition and fitness, so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to learn more,” said freshman Jackie Averdon, 18.
Similarly, freshman Atara Muhammad, 18, hopes that T.H.I.N.K. will help her develop better habits.
“It takes 21 days to create a habit,” Muhammad said. “I am going to be doing this for eight weeks, so eventually I will create a healthy one.”
Each session will cover a different topic such as the importance of exercise from a health standpoint, how nutrition can improve performance and health, how to utilize the exercise machines for their own particular goals, facts about stress and sleep deprivation and healthy body image. The goal is to create a type of survival kit for their next four years and beyond.
“Weight gain in college starts a vicious cycle because students who lead a sedentary lifestyle in college are more likely to continue to be inactive during their adult years,” said Tony Musto, Wellness Center associate director and T.H.I.N.K – College supervisor.
Musto oversees the wellness programs available for all UM students and employees, such as CV Wellness, Walking Canes and C.H.A.M.P. fitness assessments. When he heard about Price’s dissertation, he considered the C.H.A.M.P. laboratory setting as beneficial resource for fitness and health vital assessments such as cardiovascular endurance and blood pressure. The beginning assessment is used as a baseline for the upcoming weeks.
For more information about joining the program, contact Price at, or call 305-284-1132.

September 22, 2012


Andrea Jacobo

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