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AnAnalysisoftheF reshmen 15atPennState University

Prepared for: David J. Gray, Senior Vice President for Finance and Business/Treasurer at Penn State University

By: Abby McCann and Ashley Moyer April 15, 2012

ThereportfirstanalyzestheFreshmen 15andwhyitisaproblematPennState University.Itincludesinformationregardingthetrendofweightgainduringstudents freshmen year of college, nutritional information in dining commons, and access to exercise facilities on campus.

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ExecutiveSummary
AcommonproblemincollegesacrossthecountryisthedreadedFreshmen 15.While most college freshmen do not gain a full 15 pounds in their first year away from home, freshmen weight gain averages to about 7 pounds. The significant weight gain is a health risk to young adults and can contribute to weight control problems in the future. The Freshmen 15iscausedbyacombinationofvariousfactors.Themostimportantfactors include overindulgence in high calorie foods and a lack of exercise, both of which epitomize the college student lifestyle. Specifically at Penn State, the factors influencing the freshmen weight gain include the availability of nutritional information at the dining commons and the accessibility of the on-campus exercise facilities. The nutritional information regarding the food served at the dining commons is available to students on the Penn State Housing and Food Services website, but the vast majority of freshmen are unaware of this. The on-campus exercise facilities, though abundant and convenient, are not accessible to all students. The Penn State administration can help decrease the rate of freshmen weight gain. First, the nutritional information available to students can be advertised through posters and/or pamphlets to incoming freshmen so they are well informed about making healthy food choices. Sharing information about nutrition with freshmen is a much better solution than changing or restricting the food options available to students. Secondly, the membership fee to the on-campus exercise facilities can be incorporated into the student activity fee. This will be more beneficial to the health of the students in the long run than the cost of making a small additional increase in the student activity fee.

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Executive Summary List of Visuals Introduction

TableofContents

Page Number i iii 1 2 3 5 5 5 6 7 8

Solution Criteria Freshmen 15 Nutritional Information On-Campus Exercise Facilities Conclusion Nutritional Information On-Campus Exercise Facilities Recommendations Works Cited

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ListofVisuals
Page Number Figure 1: Food Selection in the Nutritional Analysis Figure 2: Calculations in the Nutritional Analysis Figure 3: Sample Survey given to Penn State Freshmen 3 4 4

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Introduction
One of the most common fears of incoming college freshmen is gaining the dreaded Freshmen 15,orthe15poundstypicallygainedduringonesfirstyearawayfrom home. According to USA Today, the average weight gain is actually around eight pounds and mainly occurs within the first 12 weeks of college (Gannett, 2006). While this data seemstolessenthesignificanceoftheFreshmen 15,itisstillanimperative issue that thePennStateadministrationshouldaddress.WhydoestheFreshmen 15happen,and what can Penn State do about it? ThisreportwillfocusontwocrucialfactorsassociatedwiththeFreshmen 15: nutritional information in the dining commons on campus and the accessibility of exercise facilities on campus. A thorough examination of the current standards of these two factors will give a better understanding of the prevalence of freshmen weight gain at Penn State. In addition, a small group of current freshmen will be surveyed to gain a deeperunderstandingofwhatPennStatecandotohelppreventtheFreshmen 15. TheresearchdoneonthecausesoftheFreshmen 15andthecurrentpracticesofPenn State lead to several recommendations for reducing the prevalence of freshmen weight gain. First, the Penn State administration should increase the availability of nutritional information by providing posters and pamphlets to incoming freshmen. Also, the Penn State administration should decrease or eliminate the additional cost of a gym membership for all students.

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SolutionCriteria

Freshmen15
There have been many studies done to prove that freshmen weight gain, whether it is 15 pounds or less, is a legitimate problem at colleges today. Research from an unidentified school in the Northeast, which was funded by the federal government, found that males gain an average of 5.6 pounds and females gain an average of 3.6 pounds in their first semester of college. A second study involving 907 students at a Midwest public university determined the average weight gain of freshmen students to be 7.8 pounds (Freshmen 15 CollegeWeightGain). Weight gain among college freshmen can happen for a number of reasons (Freshmen15.com): Freshmen are away from their families and making food choices completely on their own for the first time. They are often influenced by friends and are likely to engage in social eating, which packs on unnecessary calories. Freshmen have increased access to a variety of foods when they come to Penn State. This can causes students to overindulge and make choices about food that they did not make when they were living at home. There is research to confirm that when students are offered more food options, they eat more. Freshmen are more likely to choose sugary, starchy snacks when they are up late studying, as research suggests. Freshmen are also likely to choose high-calorie comfort foods to remind them of home when they feel homesick. Freshmen have increased beverage options. Beverage choices are as important as food choices, since beverages, like coffee and soda, are filled with calories. Freshmen are likely to consume alcohol, which greatly increases the number of calories they consume in a day. Alcohol also decreases inhibitions, causing students to make poor eating choices later in the night. Freshmen who were involved in sports in high school may not have the ability to participate in collegiate sports. They also do not have anyone reminding them to turn off the TV and be active. This lifestyle can cause freshmen to expend much fewer calories per day than in the past. Since a growing number of students are entering college each year, that means there will be an increase in the number of people who gain weight during their freshmen year. In a country that already has trouble with obesity, this is very troubling. Because there are so many factors which influence the amount of weight a typical freshman gains during their first year of college, it is likely that this problem will not just go away on its own. Penn

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State administrators must tackle this crisis head on if they want the amount of weight gained during a typical freshman year to decrease.

NutritionalInformation
ThediningcommonsonPennStatescampus,particularlydininghallsinFindlay Commons,wheremanyofthecollegesfreshmeneat,offersquiteavariety of food options for students. These options range from healthy, sometimes vegetarian dishes to sugary, calorie-filled, self-serve ice cream from the Creamery at almost every meal. Penn State offers nutritional information about the food served in the dining commons on the Housing and Food Services website. On the website, there is a list of all the food that will be served on the specific dining commons each day of the month, as shown in Figure 1. Beside some of the food listed are symbols representing healthy options, meatless options,andveganoptions.StudentscanthenclickonabuttonthatsaysNutritionto create a virtual meal and determine nutritional information based on that meal through an interactive nutritive analysis, as seen in Figure 2 (PSU Menus Online). Figure 1: Food Selection in the Nutritional Analysis

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This is an extremely helpful tool, but it is not truly accessible by all Penn State freshmen. It is not advertised on campus, so most students are not aware that it is available to them. Of 25 current Penn State freshmen sampled, only 3 were aware that this information was available to them, and none of them choose to take advantage of the interactive nutritive analysis. 21 of them would have used the website analysis if they had known it was available to them. The first-hand survey of Penn State freshmen, which can be seen in Figure 3, shows that while the nutritional website is a good resource for students, something needs to be done to make it more well-known. Since the over-consumption of high calorie foods is a cause of weight gain, the availability of nutritional information would be useful for determining an accurate count of caloric intake. If more freshmen were aware of the nutritional information that is available to them, they would be more likely to make healthier food choices and limit the number of calories they consume at the dining commons. Figure 3: Survey Given to Penn State freshmen 1. Did you purchase a membership for the gyms on-campus this year? ____ yes ____ no 1a. If no, why not? 2. Did you know Penn State offers an interactive website where you can calculate the nutritional information of the food served in Findlay Commons? ____ yes ____ no 2a. If no, would you use the interactive website if you had known it was available to you? ____ yes ____ no 2b. If yes, were you unhappy that you had to pay extra for the student gym membership? ____ yes ____ no

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OncampusExerciseFacilities
Currently at Penn State, the tuition for in-state students is $15,124, while out-of state students pay around $27,206 a year (Facts About Students). Students are then charged around $100 additionally if they choose to buy a fitness membership each year. This membership allows them access to the four gyms on campus, the indoor pool, the outdoor tennis courts, and fitness classes held in two of the gyms. Memberships must be purchased online and are charged to studentsBursaraccounts. Of the same 25 current Penn State freshmen surveyed about the nutritional website, 22 opted to purchase a gym membership. Of these, 16 were upset that they were charged more money than they already pay to attend Penn State. The 3 that chose not to purchase a gym membership did so mainly because of the additional cost to them. While a large majority of surveyed freshmen chose to purchase a gym membership, this number is not necessarily representative of the entire freshmen population at Penn State. These freshmen are current members of the Penn State club cheerleading team and may be considered more active than the average freshmen. Added into the tuition of Penn State students is an $82 per semester student activity fee. The purpose of this fee is to provide funding to improve the co-curricular environment for students on campus, according to the Penn State Lehigh Valley website (Student Activities). There is a lot of money coming into Penn State via this student activity fee, but it seems as though none of it is being used to help students get to the gym. Students need to be active to expend any additional calories they consume. If a gym membership was easily accessible to all students, more students could use the on-campus exercise facilities to prevent weight gain.

Conclusion
TheFreshmen 15iscausedbytheover-consumption of high calorie foods and a lack of regularexercise.PennStatecanhelppreventtheFreshmen 15bymakingnutritional information more available to incoming freshmen and by making on-campus exercise facilities more accessible to all students.

NutritionalInformation
Nutritional information could easily be made more well-knowntoPennStatesincoming freshmen. Providing information through posters and/or pamphlets is very low cost. Posters around campus, particularly around the dining commons, are highly effective because freshmen would pass by them several times per day. Providing incoming freshmen with nutritional pamphlets would be very effective in teaching them how and why they should be making healthy food choices. In addition to the effectiveness and low cost of creating posters and pamphlets, it would not take much extra work for Penn State Housing and Food Services to prepare them. A small group of employees can use technology to easily and quickly create the documents. Alternatively, Penn State could

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hold a contest for freshmen to design the documents so that employees would not need to take on any extra work. The large variety of food options available at all times of the day in the dining commons may still pose a problem for freshmen in making healthy choices. Healthy options, like vegetables, salads, and whole grain pasta, are already available, but they are often overshadowed by unhealthy options, like cheese fries, pizza, and ice cream. Also, freshmen tend to eat late at night, which makes it difficult to properly metabolize food before sleeping. While limiting the availability of unhealthy food options to students sounds like a great way to prevent weight gain, it may be considered unethical to restrict studentsfoodoptions. ItismoreimportantforPennStatetoincreasefreshmensawarenessofhealthyeating than to restrict their food options for two reasons: ethics takes a great precedence over convenience, and arming freshmen with knowledge will have a greater benefit in long term weight management than restricting food options.

OncampusExerciseFacilities
Memberships to on-campus exercise facilities could be made available to all students. The University Park campus is already equipped with four facilities in convenient locations to all students. If an increase in gym usage required more employees, this would open up more job opportunities for work-study students as gym attendants. The $100 membership fee could be added into the student activity fee that all students must pay. Since not all students will use the gym, even if given the opportunity, students could fill out a questionnaire to estimate the total number of students that would use a membership.Thetheoreticalcostofthestudentsgymusagecouldbeaveragedintothe total student activity fee, making the cost of the gym less expensive to a single student. Although this idea would not be popular with students who would never intend to use the gym, the student activity fee covers many other activities that benefit certain students but do not benefit others. The long term benefits of increasing the accessibility to the existing on-campus exercise facilities, in terms of preventing freshmen weight gain, greatly outweigh the small cost of increasing the student activity fee by a few dollars.

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Recommendations
The recommendations to the Penn State administration for reducing the prevalence of the Freshmen 15includetheavailabilityofnutritionalinformationtofreshmenandthe accessibility of on-campus exercise facilities to students. Advertise the nutritional information that can be found on the Penn State Housing and Food Services website through posters, strategically placed around Findlay Dining Commons. Advertise the nutritional information that can be found on the Penn State Housing and Food Services website through pamphlets, provided to all incoming freshmen in the packing of information received during their first week at Penn State. Recalculate the student activity fee so that it includes the cost of students memberships to the existing on-campus exercise facilities.

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WorksCited
"Facts About Students." Penn State F actbook. Web. 8 Apr. 2012. <http://www.budget.psu.edu/FactBook/StudentDynamic/StudentTableofContents.aspx>. "Freshman 15 College Weight Gain." F reshman 15 Challenge: Avoid College Weight Gain. Web. 8 Apr. 2012. <http://www.freshman15.com/>. "PSU Menus Online." Housing, Food Services & Residence Life Home Page . Web. 8 Apr. 2012. <http://www.hfs.psu.edu/foodpro/>. "Student Activities." Penn State Lehigh Valley: . Web. 8 Apr. 2012. <http://www.lv.psu.edu/StudentLife/Activities/28734.htm>. "The Health Journals - Tips for Avoiding the 'Freshman 15'" The Health Journal . Web. 8 Apr. 2012. <http://www.thehealthjournals.com/archive.php?id=412>.

U SA Today. Gannett. Web. 8 Apr. 2012. <http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/200610-22-freshman-weight_x.htm>.