Lifestyle changes battle weight gain

The Boynton Health Service director gave tips on avoiding weight gain in college.

Emma Carew

To help control the weight gain that often occurs during the first year of students’ college experiences, the recreation center said it’s the “little things” that count.

According to research conducted by Cornell University’s Division of Nutritional Sciences, students gain an average of 4 pounds during their first semester at college.

Similar data is unavailable for University students, according to Edward Ehlinger, director of Boynton Health Service. However, he said, students do tend to gain weight over the course of their years in college as a result of a shift in lifestyle.

Ehlinger said students tend to sleep less in college and eat more fast food, both of which lead to weight gain over time.

Students hoping to avoid gaining weight should eat breakfast and try to build at least 30 minutes of physical activity into their daily routines, he said.

They can also try to take stairs instead of elevators, Ehlinger said, or spend less time in front of a computer or video game.

Psychology sophomore James Canaon said he gained about 10 pounds in his first year at the University.

He said he played football and intramural sports in high school but wasn’t pursuing those activities in college. His eating patterns hadn’t changed when he got to the University, he said, but he wasn’t exercising anymore.

This year, Canaon said, he tries to exercise more and eat less.

The University offers resources to students to help them maintain a healthful weight.

Students can meet with Sara Harris, Boynton nutritionist, for counseling and advice, and can also take part in programming through University Recreational Sports.

Associate recreational sports program director Lisa Lemler said the department has held events at the superblock and during summer orientation to teach new students about their programming.

The department distributed information in the residence halls, she said, which detailed the fitness programs and opportunities.

The center encourages students to “have an active lifestyle,” she said, and promoting the little things students can do every day to stay in shape.

Professor in the division of epidemiology in community health Lisa Harnack said television is a main factor that works against physical activity.

Backing away from the television or finding a way to exercise while watching television, she said, would help students.

Harnack said students should be conscious of portion sizes when eating in the residence halls.

“It’s really easy to get too much of foods,” she said.

First-year pre-nursing student Rebekah Garcia said she estimates she has gained 15 pounds this semester.

She can’t always eat healthful food in the residence halls, she said, but she tries to make it to the recreation center at least twice a week to make up for it.