Are these statements true? They are close to being true for about 25% of the population.
The Freshman 15
It's A Myth
The most recent research on the "Freshman 15" published by the National Institutes of Health web site refers to the Freshman 15 as "a myth," because it's not true for most freshmen
So what's the big deal? Wouldn't this information perhaps motivate college freshman to become more aware of their eating habits? Maybe not; researcher's report just the opposite can occur. The "Freshman 15" was found in this study to play a role in "perpetuating negative attitudes toward weight."
Starting the debate was a study conducted 18 years ago. It showed that university women were more likely to be 15% over ideal body weight when compared to community women for about 25% of the students
This study also revealed that during the sophomore and junior years, "stabilization and reduction in weight" occurred once the women moved away from cafeteria style food services offered by dorm living.
More recently, David Levitsky, a Cornell University professor, reported that college freshmen gained an average of 4.2 pounds just during their first 12 weeks on campus and from this he concluded that the "Freshman 15" is real. Richard Clark, a nutrition professor at the University of Connecticut, agrees that the "Freshman 15" is real for some students.
The Holiday 7
Most people gain less than one pound during the 6-week period between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, report researchers. And this is much less than the suggested 7 pounds that's being tossed around. However, this study also shows that overweight individuals gain 5 pounds during this time4.
This research should be a real concern for those who are overweight. While it's not quite as bad as the "Holiday 7," gaining 5 pounds every year during the holidays means 50 additional pounds over the next ten years.
The Real Culprit In Holiday Weight Gain
Metabolic Syndrome X
Researchers report that 40 million US adults suffer with "Metabolic Syndrome X." This is the worst nightmare for someone overweight or obese, especially during the holiday season
- Extra bodyfat around the waist
- Higher cholesterol
- Insulin resistance
While the Freshman 15 and the Holiday 7 are not as bad as reported for most people, small gains in bodyfat over time can contribute to the condition "Metabolic Syndrome."
Metabolic Syndrome has to do with how the body acts as it puts on extra bodyfat. Starvation diets may temporarily pull off a few pounds after the holidays; but these diets without exercise can make matters worse.
Symptoms Of Metabolic Syndrome
Insulin resistance means that someone with a lot of bodyfat can eat bread for example, and their body processes it like pecan pie.
This is why someone lean and in shape can eat some traditional holiday meals without too much concern, and someone overweight will gain 5 pounds during the holidays.
The Best Part...
There may be a free cure for Metabolic Syndrome
The cure for Metabolic Syndrome is not a fad starvation diet, but rather a consistent diet of moderation and a real commitment to exercising regularly.
Extra bodyfat is at the center of this disease, and this means that you should add exercise to build and tone muscle. Adding muscle will raise your resting metabolic rate so the muscle, in essence, eats away the bodyfat for you while you're resting.
Men, women, teenagers, and even children need to exercise to add and tone muscle. Walking and increasing activity levels will not do what you need to get accomplished without adding some type of strength training to your fitness plan.
Personally, I'm partial to weight training at least three times a week along with an anaerobic exercise (sprinting types of exercise) program to make the body produce exercise-induced growth hormone7. Growth hormone released from exercise will facilitate the bodyfat burning and muscle building and toning process.
The Take Home
Make the commitment today to add weight training to your fitness plan and enjoy meals... in moderation, of course.
Phil Campbell. M.S., M.A., FACHE is the author of Ready, Set, Go! Synergy Fitness www.readysetgofitness.com
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National Institutes of Health studies summaries cited:
- Freshman 15: Valid Theory Or Harmful Myth? 2002, Graham, MA [ online ]
- Study: "Freshman 15" A Myth [ online ]
- Risk Of Excess Weight Gain In University Women: A Three-Year Community Controlled Analysis, 1985, Hovell [ online ]
- Holiday Weight Gain: Fact Or Fiction? 2000, Roberts [ online ]
- A Major Health Hazard: The Metabolic Syndrome, 2003, Isomaa [ online ]
- Study: "Freshman 15" A Myth, Levitsky Stephen [ online ]
- Impact Of Acute Exercise Intensity On Pulsatile Growth Hormone Release In Men, 1999, Pritzlaff [ online ]