Off To School, Bring On The Pounds

I’ve been through college, I’ve seen the way college kids eat; melted cheese comes to mind, and lots of it. I once witnessed a classmate top a steaming plate of spaghetti with gooey nacho cheese and bacon bits. I swear! If I’m lying I’m crying, and I haven’t shed a tear yet.

If you don’t think eating hot dogs with a side of Lucky Charms (yes, I’ve seen it) is a problem, well, have you ever heard of the “freshman fifteen?” It refers to the notorious fifteen pounds new freshman gain during their first year away at school. I know it, because it happened to me.

And I wasn’t alone. Lots of kids gorge themselves on their new found independence. Natasha Singer of The New York Times takes a look at why students take on these pesky pounds:
“I guess some people go overboard with junk food,” said Nina Marie, 17, a Purchase freshman from Pelham, N.Y., who plans to work out six days a week as a member of the tennis team. “But I already know you shouldn’t eat in your dorm, you don’t snack, and you can’t eat burgers and fries every day,” she added, even as she downed a cheeseburger and fries.


But Ms. Marie had the right idea, some experts said. College should be about making wise choices and developing healthy eating habits.
As the article explains, health experts aren’t ready to take a position on the freshman fifteen:
College weight fluctuation is a relatively new field of study. And because most of the published research on the topic involves only small groups of students on individual campuses, researchers do not know what percentage of the college population experiences weight changes, or even whether such changes are temporary or lead to long-term health consequences, said Daniel J. Hoffman, an assistant professor of nutritional sciences at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J..


Most kids are probably already consuming the fare of the standard American diet (SAD) at home, so why does this desire increase at the collegiate level? Maybe the precursors of the freshman fifteen start long before kids buy the yaffa blocks, shower shoes, and meal plans.
Janet Frankston of the Associated Press explains getting young teenagers to eat fruits and veggies might require a jaw clamp and a plunger:
The 13-year-old girl took a whiff of the steamed carrot, then took a taste.

She shook her head no and took the carrot out of her mouth.

"You just have to adjust your taste buds," her teacher, Towana Wise, told the class of teens. "You're young, and this is the best time to develop good eating habits. It's not going to kill you."

The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey has been trying hands-on nutrition workshops at its summer program for high school students in the Newark area.

And the kids haven't been thrilled. Some wanted to know why they had to have things like broccoli, fruit and milk for lunch.
Teaching kids early on the benefits of a healthy eating sounds like a good idea to me. Hook’em while they’re young! In Disease-Proof Your Child Dr. Fuhrman says teaching children the importance of a nutrient-dense diet is paramount:
The goal is for your children to eat healthfully because they want to, and do so whether their parents are around or not. We need to respect their decisions as they mature and give them leeway to formulate their decision to eat healthfully because they want to. The reasons to do so are compelling. By educating them and being good examples, they will simply follow suit. In the same way, your children should learn to enjoy exercise. If parents exercise and engage in sports for fun and recreation, so will their children.
He also has a whole podcast episode about how to get your children to eat well.
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