"The Freshman Fifteen" and Beyond: A Meta-Analysis

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"The Freshman Fifteen" and Beyond: A Meta-Analysis

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The rising rates of overweight and obesity have led to concerns about the increased risk for developing several negative health consequences. Poor eating habits and lack of sufficient levels of physical activity contribute to an increase in adiposity and body weight. Not surprisingly, the transition to college is associated with a variety of lifestyle changes that may contribute to additional weight gain, such as poor sleep, alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, and increased sedentary behavior. Many individual studies have commented on and attempted to examine the phenomenon known as the "Freshman 15". The present meta-analysis intends to discern the patterns related to body weight and adiposity changes over the first year of college. In addition, this study examines these changes from the beginning of freshman year to the end of senior year of college, as well as potential moderators of weight gain and body composition changes. We conducted a search on seven electronic databases, resulting in 55 studies for inclusion in the metaanalysis. An overall mean weight gain of 0.74 kg (1.63 lbs) was found for freshman year and 0.90 kg (1.98 lbs) for the end of senior year. Increases in BMI, percent body fat, absolute fat mass, and waist circumference, and a decrease in fat-free mass were observed for both freshman year and senior year of college. Significant differences between males and females were found in weight and BMI change. Body composition changes in college are concerning because of the potential negative health behaviors and patterns that are carried into adulthood. Focus should be paid not only to the freshman year of college but also throughout students' experiences with college.


A Plan B Research Project submitted to the Faculty of University of Minnesota by Hannah R. Lammert in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts. May 2016. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 101 pages, appendices A-D, tables, graphs

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University of Minnesota, Duluth. College of Education and Human Service Professions.

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Lammert, Hannah R. (2016). "The Freshman Fifteen" and Beyond: A Meta-Analysis. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/193213.

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