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Study: College Students Become Lazier

By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV
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(credit: JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images)

(credit: JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — It’s not the “freshman 15,” but it’s close.

A new study by researchers at Indiana University School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation shows college freshmen start out OK, but by the time they’re seniors, they weigh more and exercise less.

Boston University sophomore William Gresser hits the nail right on the head, saying, “I think it depends on how much you walk.”

That’s precisely one of the metrics these researchers targeted.  And according to their results, it turns out college seniors walk close to 40 percent less than freshmen.

We went to the BU Charles River Campus Wednesday to test out this theory, and sure enough we found plenty of undergrads who agreed. 

“I definitely walk less.  I’ve invested in the monthly T pass,” explains senior Jillian Makos.  She says since she moved off-campus she goes to the gym more, walks less, and so far, she hasn’t seen any weight gain.

With the Green Line running right through campus, you can see how easy it might be for BU students to avoid walking every now and then.

Sophomore Micaela Brody cited her heavy class load and lack of time for her public transit reliance: “I’m overloading and I don’t have time to get to the gym or exercise. Sometimes you don’t have time to walk so you take the bus or the T,” she explains.  “I’m actually walking about the same as I was at home but eating more.”

Luckily for BU students, the university has lots of options.  Staff dieticians run cooking-on-a-budget classes — for free — and students have access to the school’s tremendous gyms and recreation facilities.

“It’s in our nature as humans to be sedentary, to conserve energy,” says BU registered dietician Laura Judd.

“When a body is at rest it stays at rest and when it’s in motion it stays in motion,” she continued.  And it’s part of her job to break that inertia.  In fact, the authors of the study recommend colleges take the lead and go out of their way to provide students with healthy options.

And this is where BU is ahead of the curve.

For five years, it’s offered a healthy choices menu in all of its dining halls — the only such program of its kind at a U.S. university.

“We’re really hoping to change the perception that ‘healthy means bland’ to that ‘healthy means exciting and delicious,’” according to BU registered dietician Sarah Butler, who along with Judd works to make sure every student there has options.  “We definitely want to help them create good habits,” Butler said.

In fact, if a student was to eat off the healthy choices menu for three meals a day, “they will maintain their daily amount of calories, fat, and nutrients,” according to BU’s Executive Chef for Dining Services, Kim Hannon.

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