College is often the first opportunity many students have to experience the responsibility and freedom to make all of their own food choices. Eating habits often change during this time with the exposure to new foods, new social circles, all-you-care-to-eat dining halls, and stress-related eating.
Year after year, this transition in life and eating habits is often associated with weight gain —the dreaded “freshmen fifteen.” However, studies have shown this to be more myth than fact and weight gain during the first year of college tends to be much more minimal (less than five pounds) for most students. This is often attributed to eating more than usual, eating different types of foods, eating as a more frequent social activity, or simply having less time to be as active as many students were during high school (especially former athletes).
As college is also a time when students begin to take more of a command of their personal health, they may become more aware of certain nutrition-related health issues, including:
- Weight gain/loss
- Pre-diabetes and diabetes
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol and triglycerides
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Food allergies or intolerances
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Disordered eating and eating disorders