A prospective study of weight gain during the college freshman and sophomore years

Elizabeth E. Lloyd-Richardson, Steffani Bailey, Joseph L. Fava, Rena Wing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess the prevalence of weight gain among male and female college freshmen. Methods: Study 1 examined weight change over freshman and sophomore years among 904 students attending a state university in Indiana, from 2002-2004. Study 2 examined weight and BMI change over the freshman year among 382 students attending a private university in Rhode Island, from 2004-2006. Results: 77% of Study 1 participants and 70% of Study 2 participants gained weight during their freshman year, largely during the first semester. In Study 1, weight gain averaged 3.5 kg in females and males; in Study 2, weight gain averaged 1.6 kg for females and 2.5 kg for males. Students continued to gain weight their sophomore year, with females 4.2 kg and males 4.3 kg heavier than at start of college. Overweight/obesity rates increased from baseline to end of freshman year for Study 1 (21.6% to 36%) and Study 2 participants (14.7% to 17.8%). Conclusion: The first years of college may be a critical developmental window for establishing weight gain prevention efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-261
Number of pages6
JournalPreventive medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • College health
  • College weight gain
  • Weight gain
  • Young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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