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Study: Infamous freshman 15 may actually be 3

Tuesday - 9/10/2013, 8:38am  ET

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Most of the weight that college students gain is largely because of drinking, according to the study. (WTOP File)

WASHINGTON - It's a myth that college students gain 15 pounds during their first year away from home, studies have found.

An Ohio State University study shows fewer than 10 percent of new students gained the infamous "freshman 15."

Most gained about 3 pounds, while 25 percent actually lost weight, reports The Huffington Post.

Women gained an average of 2.4 pounds during their freshman year, while men gained an average of 3.4 pounds, the study found.

The weight gain of freshmen is about a half-pound more than a person of the same age who did not go to college, according to Jay Zagorsky, co-author of the study and research scientist at Ohio State University's Center for Human Resource Research.

He attributes the weight gain to "becoming a young adult," not to going to college.

On average, students did slowly gain weight from the start of college to graduation. Women put on between 7 and 9 pounds while men gained 12 or 13.

That weight may be largely because of drinking. Those who drink heavily -- six or more drinks at least four days a month -- graduate a pound heavier than their friends who didn't drink at all.

The Ohio State study used data from 7,418 young people. The data is from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997. Every year since the study started, the same participants have been interviewed about their weight.

Researchers in the various studies recommend that universities help foster healthy living habits and focus on getting students to eat healthy foods and exercise regularly.

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