Brittany Schock / Asst. photo editor
Many college students have heard about, feared and even experienced the dreaded freshman 15.
There are a combination of reasons why freshmen put on extra weight during their first year of college. First-year students are subjected to the often unhealthy meal options available at Ohio State’s dining halls.
“Typically, dining rooms serve mostly high carbohydrate and high fat diets,” Dr. Kwame Osei, endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism specialist at the OSU Medical Center, said in an email. “These high-energy foods contribute to weight gain obesity in college students.”
Between 50 and 60 percent of daily caloric intake should be carbohydrates and 30 to 40 percent should be fat, Osei said in the email.
Karri Benishek, marketing manager of University Residences and Dining Services, said URDS is constantly updating the website with nutrition information to keep students informed.
“The easiest way (to lower food calories) is to cut down on the condiments,” Benishek said. “(The chefs) are making it to order and as a guest you have the option to cut out things that aren’t necessarily good for you.”
The pesto primavera from the Marketplace more than doubles the recommended daily value of carbohydrate intake and is about the recommended daily value of fat intake. The pasta dish contains 216 percent of the daily value of fat and 94 percent of the daily value of carbohydrates, according to OSU’s dining services website.
Kelsey David, a first-year in nursing, said her favorite campus dining food item is the smoked turkey with muenster and pesto sandwich available at Marketplace and Kennedy Commons. The sandwich contains 875 calories, 76 percent of the daily value of fat and 21 percent of the daily value of carbohydrates, according to OSU’s dining services website.
“I just looked up the calories on it so I’m not allowed to eat it anymore because it’s so bad for you, but it’s delicious,” David said.
Teresa Sandoval, a first-year in biomedical engineering, said her favorite campus food item is the margherita pizza from Marketplace. This pizza contains 1084 calories, 56 percent of the daily value of fat and 46 percent of the daily value
Benishek acknowledges that the portions at Marketplace are large and misleading in name.
“Those portion sizes are not meant to be eaten in one sitting,” Benishek said. “They’re actually a double portion.”
The language is currently “full portion,” and Benishek said she is working on changing the language to better reflect the actual number of portions in the meal.
Some students gave additional reasons for freshman weight gain.
“(Students) can eat whenever they want,” David said. “When you’re in high school you’re in school and you can’t eat all day. It’s just really easy to eat all the time.”
Al McLean, a first-year in business and member of the men’s ice hockey team, said a change in activity level is another reason students put on extra pounds.
“I think it’s (students) first year out of high school so they may not be involved as much. You know going around place to place and being in athletics,” he said. “More downtime means you’re probably going to put on a few more pounds.”
Sandoval said she exercises daily to avoid weight gain.
“I’m only slightly worried about (the freshman 15) because we live directly across from Kennedy Commons and we’re here nearly every day,” Sandoval said. “But I run every day so it kind of counteracts it.”
Campus dining halls do not limit consumers to unhealthy options. Many have salad bars, fruits, vegetables and other low calorie items.
Benishek said the luxuries like ice cream and dessert are meant to be enjoyed every once in a while.
“At the end of the day it’s really about choice,” Benishek said.
David acknowledges some students find it difficult to choose these healthier options.
“You can make (campus dining) healthy if you want to. Like (at Kennedy Commons) you can get grilled chicken, salads, stuff like that, but you can get fries and mac and cheese, so you can definitely go that route if you want to. You kind of have to try hard not to,” David said.
To avoid the freshman 15, students should reduce caloric intake by making healthier food choices at dining halls and increase exercise, said Osei in the email.