FRAMINGHAM (CBS) — The temptations of the college dining hall can make any mouth water.
All-you-can-eat burgers, fries, pizza, dessert, and yes, fruits and veggies too.
“Freshman usually gain the ‘Freshman 15,’ but for me it was the ‘Freshman 20’,” said Keith Marcoccia.
The Framingham State University sophomore is among the dozens of people who are now part of an on-campus eating experiment.
“I wanted to use this as a learning experience, to learn how to eat healthy, how to lose weight, and how to keep it off,” he said.
“Many diets can be successful, but we don’t really know what diet is best for keeping weight off,” explained Dr. Cara Ebbeling. “So, we designed this study to address that question. It’s a diet without any wiggle room.”
Participants are paid $3,000 to commit to this strict meal plan for the entire school year, and they won’t spend a dime on food. All meals and snacks for the participants are prepared at an on-campus kitchen, every day, for 9 straight months.
“Every food is weighed or measured so that the amounts and calories levels are just right,” said Dr. Ebbeling.
There are daily weigh-ins, and there’s no cheating allowed. That means no extra treats on holidays, and no alcohol–no exemptions.
“No, not at all, you know, its’ different for any college student,” said Sabine Adrasse, a Framingham senior who is also taking part in this year’s FS2 study. “Before I entered this study, if I had to be up late, you know, studying or doing homework, I would take trips to the vending machines and be snacking a lot.”
The first 12 weeks of the study are all about weight loss. If participants lose 10% or more of their bodyweight, they move onto the second and final phase. The final 20 weeks are all about keeping the weight off.
Participants are divided into three different diet plans: high carb, moderate carb, and low carb. But remember–all those lost calories and carbs are replaced with cash.
“That definitely is motivation,” said Sabine.
“Obviously the money is a plus, but it’s not the only reason I did this.” said Keith. “I want to be healthy.”
About 60 Framingham State students, faculty and staff, and community members are taking part in the study. Another two dozen participants are picking up food from an FS2 kitchen located at Assabet Valley Regional High School.
This is the study’s third and final year, and results are expected in late 2017.