AUBURN – A recent Auburn University study provides evidence that today’s college students are heavier and, yes, fatter when they graduate than when they first arrived on campus. And that’s true more so for the male student body than the female. The study tracked changes in male and female college students’ weight, size, shape and body composition not just as freshmen but over the course of their four-year college careers.
Results from the in-depth research project that ultimately followed 89 females and 42 males from their first semester on campus in August 2007 to their last in May 2011 showed seven out of every 10 students participating in the study gained weight – an average of 13 pounds for males and 3.7 pounds for females – on their journey to a bachelor’s degree.
More telling, however, were the changes in body fat percentages, which revealed that the average weight-gaining student in the four-year study had 4.7 percent more fat tissue as a graduating senior than he or she had as an incoming freshman. Body fat percentages increase not only with gain of fat tissue but also with the loss of lean muscle mass, so, although females in the study gained only 3.7 pounds on the scales, they had 8.5 more pounds of fat in the body at the study’s end. For males, the higher body fat percentage translated into 11.1 additional pounds of fat.