Mandatory Meal Plans

Recent studies show that the “freshman 15” is more hyperbole than myth.

A study published by Dr. Nicole L. Mihalopoulos, Dr. Peggy Auinger and Dr. Jonathan D. Klein in the Journal of American College Health hypothesized students who live on campus gain weight during their first year of college. The results confirmed this but not to the extent of the “freshman 15.” In the sample studies, male students gained an average of about 4 pounds while their female counterparts gained an average of about 2 pounds during their first year.

“The exact causes behind these changes are unclear and warrant further research to plan or improve intervention and prevention,” said Dr. Daniel J. Hoffman in a similar study at Rutgers University.

Another study, conducted at Auburn University by Sareen S. Gropper, Karla P. Simmons, Lenda Jo Connell and Pamela V. Ulrich, found that 70 percent of the college students sampled gained weight not just during their freshmen years but also throughout all four years of study.

The study concluded, “the increasing prevalence of obesity and normal weight obesity among this college population suggests the need for additional health promotion strategies on college campuses.”

Cindy Miller, assistant director of marketing, communications, and technology for Ball State Housing and Residence Life, says the university does many things to promote a healthy lifestyle.

“There’s certainly programs we encourage [students] to get involved with,” Miller says. “Either through the activities through the rec center, we also have fitness rooms that are sort of [miniature] versions of the big fitness rooms at the fitness center that are in all of our residence halls.

Physical activity or the lack there of are not the sole factors in the common weight gain experienced by many college students. The studies also suggested that students’ eating habits and the type of food available to them might have some part in college weight gain.

Students at Indiana’s public universities agree there are healthy food options available on their campuses, but it’s up to the students to whether they choose healthy options or not.

“The buffet style definitely affects student eating habits simply because of [the] variety and quantity available,” says Jackie Reising, a senior at Purdue University. “I think I got my money’s worth since I could eat as much as I wanted.”

The structure of Ball State’s meal plan can cause students to overeat, says Joe Hannon, a junior at Ball State University.

“With the way the amount of the meal swipe is set up, people try to spend the entire $8.40, regardless of if they really want the extra food. And often times, if it's on their tray when they check out, they'll eat it then, regardless of if they're still hungry after eating the rest of their food,” he says.