Many colleges and universities in the United States have faced scrutiny over the lack of healthy food options available to their students. Thus, the common expression “the freshmen 15,” which refers to the fifteen or more pounds college students put on during their first year of school (due a poor diet and increased consumption of alcohol), gets bandied about frequently.
A recent study conducted by researchers at Oregon State University, Western Oregon University and the Benton County Health Department for the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior brought the “the freshmen 15” into question by claiming college students are reportedly more food insecure than headed towards obesity. Students from Western Oregon participated in a survey that revealed 59 percent of them reported having experienced food insecurity at least once during their first year in college. Being food insecure means students have limited access or ability to buy nutritional, healthy foods, and as a result their school performance reportedly drops while their stress and depression levels increase.
Despite dozens of studies directly linking food insecurity and obesity, we’ll give them a pass on that assessment to address what seems to be a larger problem. According to a press release issued by OSU, many of the researchers were “shocked” at the resulting numbers. The fact that those involved in the study were so taken aback by these figures may be a testament to how out of touch our educational institutions are regarding the concerns of the average student. In a country where the cost of higher education has ballooned to monumental levels, who exactly would be surprised to find out that many students have trouble affording the basic necessities?
With an increasing cost of living for students, as well as increased pressure to stay on campus, the question seems to be not if, but when will OSU figure out a way to increase healthy food options and without increasing prices? That struggling 59 percent is hungry to know.
by Patrick Fancher