Obesity in College Students: Why it Happens and How to Prevent It

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It’s easy for bad eating habits to cause weight gain, even leading up to obesity in college students, especially those living in dormitories. A college student with bad eating habits usually brings to the campus the very habits he or she developed over the past 18 years from home. Poor eating habits can also become more pronounced due to college life.

Once the student is in college, disaster can really unfold, for several reasons. If the student lives in a dormitory, he or she gets to visit the cafeteria three times a day and eat unlimited quantities of food. Typically these choices are not the healthiest in nature. No limit on fried chicken, pizza, burgers, hotdogs, lasagna, mac ‘n cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, biscuits, cakes, ice cream – and that’s just lunch and dinner. College dorms serve up breakfasts of unlimited eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles, pancakes and pastries.

College students may feel entitled to eat more than they ever have before, because

1) The food comes with the tuition, which is sky-high expensive, so their reasoning is to eat up and get all they can out of the tuition.

2) Staying up through the night to cram for exams may cause college students to feel they earned the reward of stuffing themselves at breakfast.

3) Eating at a table full of other kids can make it pretty enticing to eat as a result of visual cues, rather than hunger cues.

4) Absent is their mother’s monitoring of eating habits, and now, the college student is compelled to exercise his or her new-found freedom.

And that’s just the beginning of obesity at college. In addition to the cafeteria all-you-can-eat fare, there are weekend pizza parties and plenty of beer. If a college student’s roommate orders pizza, you can bet that both students will be plowing into it. And then there’s the popcorn factor: The tantalizing aroma of popcorn can be picked up on most dormitory floors on any night. Dorms also usually have a grill that’s open till midnight; it’s mighty hard to pass up the nachos and chili cheese dogs.

Off campus college students with bad eating habits are also at risk for obesity, since apartments occupied by college students are often home to frequent partying. The effect of all these poor eating habits is exacerbated by the lack of exercise, as some college students, formerly athletes in high school, now become sedentary once in college, while only a tiny fraction of high school athletes go on to continue competing in their sport at the college level.

Like one student once said, “You either gain or lose weight in college. You never stay the same.”