Going off to college for the first time often means a weight gain for the typical freshman, but for students with a chronic disease such as diabetes, the factors that lead to the weight gain pose a special risk. As students struggle to adjust to the demands of academic work, increased fatigue is another common problem.
Carol DeNysschen, Ph.D., R.D., is an associate professor of nutrition and dietetics at SUNY Buffalo State. “Several factors contribute to the weight gain that freshmen experience,” she said. “Those factors pose a special risk for students who already struggle with diabetes or obesity, or who have cancer.”
Dr. DeNysschen is available to talk to reporters about the “freshman 15,” as the freshman weight gain is commonly known. “The actual weight gain is usually less than that,” she said.
Fatigue is also a significant problem for college students who are adjusting to the demands of college. “It is very important for college students to maintain their physical activity,” said DeNysschen. “It is very important that students maintain their physical activity; they should try for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise every day, with a physician’s approval.”
The benefits of exercise include stress relief and better sleep. “Exercise also helps people make better food choices,” she said.
Dr. DeNysschen is available to discuss the factors behind the weight gain, which include:
- All-you-can-eat college meal plans
- Lower intakes of fruits and vegetables
- Increased consumption of convenience foods
- Erratic meal patterns
- Lack of sleep
- Higher stress
- Lower exercise levels
- Alcohol consumption
“Alcohol has seven calories per gram, which is more than carbohydrates and protein,” said DeNysschen. “And alcohol provides zero nutrients.”