‘Freshman 15’ could lead to obesity

College-aged students suffer from obesity three times more often than young children, and the condition might start with something as simple as the “Freshman 15.”

Obesity has become increasingly common in America in the past 30 years, and is currently present in more than one-third of adults in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

But is the “Freshman 15” a myth or a reality?

According to Oswego State’s nutritionist Sarah Formoza, it is common for a student to gain at least five pounds as a freshman.

“Students choose their comfort food when they eat,” Formoza said. “They choose their favorite, even if it’s a fried food.”

Formoza, who has been working in the college for two years, offers free nutritional counseling to students.

“I enjoy working on a college campus and nutritionally help students in their younger years to prevent any disease later in life,” Formoza said.

With the nutritionist’s help, dining halls around campus only serve fried foods twice a week, reducing the amount of oil in the food eaten every day and instead baking typical food choices like chicken patties.

Although eating a healthy in a diet is important, fitness and nutrition go hand in hand.

“You gotta hit both,” said Brian Wallace, Fitness Centers Manager at Oswego State.

Wallace has been working on campus for 10 years. As manager, he coordinates all operations of both Cooper and Glimmerglass Fitness Centers.

Approximately 3,100 students have a membership to these fitness centers.

“Some people buy the membership but don’t use it sometimes,” Wallace said.

The fitness centers also have 25 trainers who guide students on how to exercise properly and ultimately live on a healthier routine.

The option for a trainer comes free. Because a trainer is highly demanded, many students are put on a waiting list.

Wallace said that eventually they get to everyone.

So, if there are so many ways to avoid the “Freshman 15,” why is it still a problem among students?

“Students come to school away from parents regulation in what to eat and how much,” said Christopher Romita, a sophomore business major. “The requirement of unlimited meal plan at Oswego doesn’t help either.”

With an unlimited meal plan, the options available and the long hours of dining hall operation make it almost impossible to stop eating.

“You definitely have to adjust to the college life,” said James Tavarez, a freshman and meteorology major. “I gained 10 pounds when I got here.”

However, Oswego State has been active in the prevention of obesity on campus.

Events like the Great Pumpkin Run, Bench Press Competition and Take it Off Weight Loss Challenge keep Oswego State students active.

The Health and Wellness department is currently looking for a way to add a nutrition class into the requirements to graduate as what many students call them, a “Gen Ed.”

To help with the health initiative, the dining halls are currently conducting a meatless Monday to cut out meat one day a week.

“I want to make sure meat is not everything on student’s plates,” Formoza said.

According to the Nutrition Information and Services on the campus website, Oswego dining has joined this international movement for the health of the college and the health of the planet.

“It’s a small initiative that no one really pays attention to,” Romita said. “At least 85 percent of the food is unhealthy no matter what.”

Yet the future of Oswego does not look as bad as more health awareness programs will be added. Vegan and gluten-free options are soon to be added to the regular menu as well, and more food would be less processed, less fried and made with less sodium.

This would be thanks to Formoza.

“It’ll take time, but I want to do everything at once,” Formoza said.

Oswego State may improve its overall health measures, but it is still everyone’s choice to be healthy.

“We can’t make somebody exercise but we can give the education and motivation on what to eat,” Wallace said. “It’s all about how you manage your life and how you prioritize healthy choices.”