Monthly Archives: October 2009

Taking Steps to Cure Freshman 15

“Whatever restraining influences parents might have had when the teenagers were at home are unshackled when kids go off to college.”

Dr. David Ludwig, director of the Optimal Weight for Life program at Children’s Hospital Boston.

The Freshman 15 is a topic widely reported on by journalists, especially in Boston because of the heavy concentration of colleges and universities in the area. It’s now become an accepted truth that as a freshman, you will drink excessively, you will eat unhealthy food in the dining hall and your exercise habits will all but disappear.

Tracy Jan, a reporter for the Boston Globe who focuses on higher education, wrote an article on October 18th describing the changes some schools around Boston are beginning to enforce to address at least one of the problems contributing to the unhealthy weight gain most freshman experience during their first semester of college.

One of the most logical changes being made comes from Merrimack College, where they got rid of their old circular plates and replaced them with smaller square “tapas” style plates.

The idea is to subliminally have the students eating in the dining hall load less onto their plate and have smaller servings, as opposed to the free-for-all most cafeterias employ now.

Aside from the smaller plates, Merrimack has trained it’s servers to give out smaller portions and strategically serve more vegetables with say the roasted chicken as opposed to fattening mashed potatoes.

While this idea sounds good in theory, many of Merrimack’s actual students refer to the servings as “bird food,” and many say they have to get up to get multiple servings with the smaller plates, making the new strategy more annoying than helpful.

Obesity is an epidemic in America, with a large portion of the problem being in our higher education system, but at least there are beginning to be programs and strategies set into place at these colleges and universities to fix where these problems begin – our eating habits.