Reversing the ‘Freshman 15:’ Why Losing the Weight is More Dangerous than Gaining it

Want to beat that “Freshman 15?” With this diet plan, you can reverse those 15 pounds in just two weeks!

Western society has long since believed in the phrase “the thinner the better.” Losing weight and being thin have become associated with good health and attractiveness. For someone aiming to lose weight, losing 15 pounds in a mere two weeks, an average 7.5 pounds a week, is above and beyond any expectations–and reality. Most people would assume this person has championed weight loss, but there is a reason for the extreme weight loss, and it is often not positive.

In college, it is too easy to forget about eating. Unlike prior schooling, there is no administrative time set aside for eating; one’s eating habits are entirely up to them. Busy schedules, caffeine and adrenaline rushes can stop our body from feeling hunger all together.

College tends to be associated with weight gain; the coined phrase Freshman 15 haunts new students every year. However, weight gain is not the biggest problem on this campus. Registered dietitian and coordinator of nutrition services at this university’s Health Center, Jane Jakubczak, calls the most prominent issue “dangerous dieting.”

“I’m more concerned about the myth of the Freshman 15 because there are so many students who are so afraid that they overcompensate,” Jakubczak said. “You come to college, it’s so overwhelming and adrenaline increases causing a lack of hunger; it’s almost impossible to eat when you are not hungry.

“Male and females go on diets to lose weight or get bulky. A lot of the diets out there are very dangerous because they are very restrictive; they are designed that way because people want quick weight loss.”

Though diets can cause physical problems, such as nutrient deficiency, college students are more in danger of mental health issues corresponding with these diets.

“Diet more affects your mental health; it’s more immediate,” Jakubczak said. “With mental health, if one’s not eating well or blood sugars are low, it increases depression, anxiety, irritability. These things can cause one with good mental health to feel awful or even worse, [and] someone who suffers from mental illness to worsen their conditions.”

This week is National Mental Health Awareness Week and aims brings these issues into the light. In fact, 30 percent of all diets will lead to an eating disorder or distorted eating.

“It’s important to encourage those around us to be healthy and active,” said junior nutrition major Adeola Adekola. “However, it’s also important to ensure that as someone loses weight they do it in a safe way. Weight loss can be just as unhealthy as weight gain.”

Jakubczak wants students to stop and think before they encourage weight loss in other students. Not all weight loss is healthy, and if a diet seems too good to be true, it probably is.

“It’s a strange perception in our society that any weight loss is good even for those who do not need to lose weight. It’s so dangerous,” Jakubczak said. “If someone is even over weight and they lost weight, you don’t know the situation; they could be starving themselves.”

If you feel you are having an nutrition related issue, contact the Health Center at 301-314-5664 or email

Featured Photo Credit: Featured photo courtesy of Tanvir Alam on Flickr.

Lindsey Collins is a freshman multiplatform journalism major and can be reached at

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