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Morning Sun
  • Facts and foods behind the infamous "Freshman 15"

  • College freshmen often worry about the “freshman 15,” or the extra weight they supposedly gain from eating and partying too much during their first year of school.

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  • College freshmen often worry about the “freshman 15,” or the extra weight they supposedly gain from eating and partying too much during their first year of school.
    However, A Pittsburg State University professor said they shouldn’t fret over the weight gain; it’s something they’re likely going to experience anyway.
    “Adolescence doesn’t end until age 19, so both males and females are still experiencing growth until the end of that period,” said family and consumer sciences professor Cris Elliott. “Very few freshmen are in their adult bodies yet, and regardless of what their life is, they will probably gain that weight just in developing their adult bodies.”
    Elliott said that as obesity rates continue to rise in the United States — in Crawford County obesity affects as high as 50 percent of the population — students are becoming more conscious of the food they choose to eat.
    “They’re very concerned with their food supply, its nutrition content, how to plan meals, how to buy local foods and foods that are responsibly processed,” Elliott said. “They’re really sharp and very knowledgeable.”
    The federal government recently retired its age-old food pyramid for a much easier-to-read diet graph — a plate that divides  a healthy diet into vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy and protein. And instead of obsessing over gaining extra weight, Elliott said students, and people in general, should focus on controlling food portions and reducing unhealthy, processed foods in their diets. The diagram is available at www.choosemyplate.gov.
    Elliott said much of the problem with obesity comes from fast food campaigns that offer increasingly large portion sizes.
    “The food industry used large portion sizes to promote their businesses, and people started eating those portions and getting used to them,” Elliott said. “It’s portion distortion. We don’t have this visual picture of what a portion should be.”
    On campus, Sodexo, the company that provides meals and catering to students and faculty, is increasingly offering nutritional information about the foods it serves, Elliott said.
    “They’ve taken the initiative to help make the quality of the food better,” she said.
    Jeanette Dyck, Gibson Dining Hall manager for Sodexo, said the company provides nutrition information in two ways.
    “For many of the offerings, we have cards that list the portion size, calorie count, grams of fat and other nutrition information,” Dyck said, adding that students can also go online at Gorilladining.com and see the menus for the week. When they click on a menu item, they will see all of the nutrition information displayed.
    “Kids still want their pizza and their chicken fried steak, but they want options. Back when I was in college, we didn’t have nearly all the choices we have now. It was one entrée, a very limited salad bar. Over the years it’s grown, and the dining hall is like a restaurant.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Dyck said having the week’s menu available in advance can allow a student to balance his or her diet and plan for special favorites.
    “If you plan what you are going to eat during the day, you tend to stick with that plan,” Dyck said. “If you have no plan, you are more likely to eat what’s available whenever you feel hungry. I think Americans have gotten wiser about the things we’re eating.”
    Dyck said Sodexo’s offerings have received positive feedback from the students.
    “Last year we started the Crisp Creations salad bar, and that was really popular,” she said. “We also added baked chicken and other items. They still like comfort foods, but they seem to use more moderation. We can’t keep fruit on hand.
    Dyck said there has been talk of adding a full-service deli bar, which would be “more high-class than a Subway.”
    “But right now we’ll just try to innovate and see what we can come up with,” she continued. “As the college grows, we’ll grow.”

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