The Niagara News is the community newspaper of Niagara College located in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. It is created and produced by the students of the Niagara College Journalism program.
By ZIWEN LU Staff Writer Lifestyle change is sometimes accompanied by weight gain. Every year there is an increasing number of students entering post-secondary institutions with the goal of achieving a higher education. A large percentage of these students — if not the majority — are leaving their parents for the first time and some tend to gain visible amounts of weight. This phenomenon is infamously crowned the “Freshman 15.” “I am so used to having my parents cook for me… that I have just resorted to eating out every night,” says Edward Creighton, an alumnus of the Customs and Immigration program at Niagara College. “I don’t know about 15, but I definitely gained some unwanted weight.” When asked whether he had taken steps to curb the weight gain, he replied, “I finally had checked out the gym facilities at the school because none of my pants fit around my waist anymore.” Studies show that students on average gain three to 10 pounds during their first two years of college, however, most of this weight gain commonly occurs during the first semester of the freshman year. One reason cited is the abundance of and easy access to high-calorie fast foods, which often times are cheaper to purchase than healthy selections. Another consideration is that new students may not be effectively managing their schedules in that they are not able to, or choose not to, invest in the time to cook healthy meals. As a result, processed foods and unhealthy frozen meals for the sake of convenience and availability are often prioritized and healthier options are overlooked. “The handmade bread at Benchmark is to die for and it is only $4. This could become an addiction,” says Mary Chau, a second-year Dental Assisting program student at Niagara College. “Last year, as a freshman, I gained some weight at the beginning of the school year. But I’ve been living on my own for a while now that I’ve learned how to cook healthy and haven’t gained a single pound this year.” The new experience of being away from home can cause anxiety and stress for some students. Combined with academic pressure, students can be left feeling sad, lonely and homesick. This can lead to an unhealthy diet. In a study featured on kidshealth.org, freshmen were observed gaining four pounds on average in a 12-week span. Students were found to be eating an average of 174 additional calories each day.