With the fall semester approaching, more than 4,000 new students will be coming to the MU campus. By the end of the year, they will have gained knowledge and experiences — and, if they’re not careful, tens of thousands of pounds as a group.

At MU, the “Freshman 15” actually works out to an average weight gain of 22 pounds, giving it the name, the “Mizzou 22.”

Sarah Buckallew, assistant teaching faculty for dietetics, said part of the problem is the opportunity students have to eat a lot of different foods while at MU.

“You’re used to living at home and then you go to this different environment where you have endless amounts of food offered to you, and some of it is unhealthy, and we like to choose those tasty, unhealthy options,” Buckallew said.

Students find that the easy and quick dining options offered at MU, while convenient, can also be taxing to their health. Nathan Mills, a senior, said the all-you-can-eat system at the dining halls makes it easy to lose track of what you’re eating and how much.

In order to combat the “Mizzou 22,” MU offers many resources to stay healthy and avoid weight gain.

“One of our main programs or resources here on campus is the Wellness Resource Center,” Buckallew said. “They have a lot of information for students about eating healthier, just being healthy in general, so it’s not just about nutrition but sleeping habits, study habits, sleeping and things like that.”

As a faculty member of the MU School of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, Buckallew consults with many MU students on healthy habits. When asked for tips, Buckallew said she “would advise incoming freshmen and incoming students to try to eat as healthy as you possibly can, maintaining some of those healthy habits that you had at home.”

“So choosing a vegetable, eating a fruit at most meals, going easy on the sweets and the higher fat calorie foods as well,” she said. “I would advise them to exercise and move as well, get good sleep, don’t forget breakfast. So eat breakfast and, like I said, we have all of these great resources, so reach out if it’s something a student is concerned about or feels like they’re needing some extra help.”

Other advice comes from fellow students on campus.

Savanna Qualls, a sophomore, frequents the MizzouRec facilities. “My freshman year I never came to the Rec, and you’re paying for the Rec anyway, and it’s an awesome facility, so I would just say to stay active in the Rec.”

Aside from the MU Rec Complex, many students suggest walking on campus as opposed to using alternate methods of transportation, like Bird scooters or other electric vehicles.

When asked what he’d say to other students coming to Mizzou, incoming freshman Christian Ricketts kept it simple:

“Just take care of yourself. Don’t get into eating too much junk and stuff like that, so you don’t put on that Mizzou 22 that’s so fabled around here,” he said. “You’ve got to be the main person that’s watching out for yourself, so just watch out for yourself.”

Ethan Levy is a student at Glenbrook North High School in Glenbrook, Ill. Zain Schwartz is a student at Columbia Independent School in Columbia.

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