For Immediate Release
Contact: Allison Slattery, Communications Specialist
Avoid the “Freshman 15” with Healthy Eating Plan
Tips for College Students
It’s back-to-school time for college students. Avoiding the dreaded “freshman 15” weight gain is a challenge to some young students when faced for the first time with a daily array of healthy and not-so-healthy food choices. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends those college students, and everyone, know their daily calorie needs and try to create a healthy eating plan that incorporates a few basic healthy eating goals.
Weight gain – a growing problem
More than 60% of adults in the US are either overweight or obese and the most significant weight changes occur in the 18-29 year old age group. A study by Washington University in St. Louis on college students’ weight gain showed that body weight increased in 70% of the 290 students studied between the beginning of their freshman year and the end of their sophomore year.
So what’s a few extra pounds? Obesity can lead to health complications such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Less than 1% of U.S. adults meet the definition for ideal healthy diet and essentially no children meet the goal. To successfully manage weight, the AHA encourages people to learn about healthier food choices and know how many calories to eat daily. The AHA offers a free online BMI/personal calorie tool at http://bit.ly/BMIcalorietool .
Eat more fruits and vegetables
The USDA’s MyPlate.gov says an ideal meal plate is one that is half-filled with fruits and vegetables. This ‘go green first’ strategy helps people reach the recommended 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Produce provides a variety of important vitamins and nutrients and they’re naturally low in calories.
All-you-can-eat dining facilities can tempt even the most well-intentioned, health conscious student.
When students see a variety of unhealthy selections at the food bar, it’s hard to resist. But knowing their individual calorie needs and having a plan before they reach the cafeteria will help avoid making unhealthy choices.
Choose beverages wisely
Unlimited soda fountains and access to alcoholic beverages as students become of drinking age, are additional sources of calories and weight gain.
Even a two-soda per day habit can add up to a lot of unwanted pounds over the course of the year. Try drinking water, unsweetened flavored waters, whole fruit juices with no added sugar, low-fat or skim milk and limiting soda to special occasions.
Let’s face it, college students, like the rest of us, will absolutely indulge in the unhealthy choices, but if the core diet is healthy, you don’t exceed calorie needs, and you exercise daily, then the occasional indulgence shouldn’t tip the scales.
For more information about weight management, visit www.heart.org/weightmanagement.
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About My Heart. My Life.™
The health of the United States has hit a new low, with millions of Americans at risk for heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association are responding to this crisis with a new national movement designed to change the way Americans think about their health. It’s called My Heart. My Life. It’s about embracing an overall healthier lifestyle to improve cardiovascular health.
The American Heart Association’s My Heart. My Life. program is a comprehensive health, wellness and fitness initiative empowering Americans to improve their health. A key goal is to increase the number of people who understand the link between their health and their risk for heart disease and stroke and empower them with the tools to become healthier. This movement is a national rallying cry for change – through simple behavior adjustments that help people feel better and live longer.