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Eat Behav. 2008 Jan;9(1):82-90. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2007.06.001. Epub 2007 Jun 20.

Weight gain, dietary restraint, and disordered eating in the freshman year of college.

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  • 1Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Eating Disorders Clinic, 45C Gordon Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.



The aims of the study were to assess whether women during the first year of college experience (1) significant weight gain; (2) a prospective relation between dietary restraint and weight gain; (3) an increase in disordered eating; and (4) a prospective relation between dietary restraint or concern about the Freshmen 15 (i.e., weight gain of 15 lbs during the freshman year of college) and disordered eating.


Participants were 336 female students in their first year of college who completed questionnaire measures of Body Mass Index (BMI), eating disorder pathology, dietary restraint, body image, and self-esteem.


Participants' mean weight gain was approximately 3 lbs (1.5 kg), and among those who gained weight, the mean gain was 7.32 lbs (3.3 kg). Dietary restraint in September did not predict weight change in April, but participants who lost weight reported significantly greater dietary restraint than those participants who gained weight. Eating disorder symptoms increased significantly from September to April. Dietary restraint, concern about the "Freshman 15", and self-esteem in September uniquely predicted EDE-Q Weight and Shape Concern subscale scores in April.


Female students in their first year of college gain a small but significant amount of weight, and weight gain was mostly unrelated to dietary restraint. Disordered eating increases during the first year of college and, is predicted by prospective dietary restraint and concerns about weight gain.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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