Hi Dr. Nick | Issue 05

Hi Dr. Nick | Issue 05

The Fresher Five

Hi everybody!

Last week we talked a bit about STIs and, like herpes, that’s a topic that will be coming back in the future. For now though we’re treating STIs like Dexies and shelving them for a bit. This week I want to talk about a bigger topic. A much bigger topic: fatties. That’s right, it’s the Fresher Five.

For those who don’t interact with others outside of academic discussions (*cough* St Marg’s), the “fresher five” is the colloquial term for the weight students put on in their first year of uni. For those who don’t interact with others in any academic capacity (*cough* UniCol), “colloquial” means slang.

The fresher five isn’t anything unique to Otago; it’s so well established that it even has its own Wikipedia page (though so does Critic, so legitimacy clearly isn’t a requirement for page allocation). Really though, the idea just makes sense. First year is the first time most kids leave the nest and suddenly you’re living in an “all-you-can-stomach” hall, have a reliable weekly income, live within walking distance of Willowbank’s chips, no longer have to do school sports, are stressed out and, perhaps most blame-ably, are drinking a lot of a-a-a-a-a-alcohol (which has a stonkingly high calorie count and the ability to overload your body’s ability to break down fats).

Now that’s a pretty solid six-comma list and I could just leave it there and knock off early; but as an academic I’m simply not content cutting corners in order to save time, so let’s back up the theory with evidence. I’m not gonna reference any sources though, ‘cause fuck doing that much work.

After a quick lit search, it seems the jury is still out on whether freshers become fatties any faster than others. The general consensus of the few more reputable articles seems to be that first years do gain a bit of weight (around 1.3-2.3kg) and this might be slightly faster than non-freshers of the same age. Bear in mind, smug second years, the trend doesn’t stop after first year. A longer study showed that after four years of uni around 70% of students gained weight (average 5.3kg). So the fresher five is a real thing, but it’s like a tourism degree – it takes most people four years to do one year’s worth of work.

Let’s be clear; this isn’t exactly stem cell or cancer research, so the studies are pretty piss-poor. At the end of the day though, the theory makes sense and you’ll see it happen while you’re here. So keep an eye on your food intake and consider hitting up Unipol once or twice this year.
This article first appeared in Issue 5, 2013.
Posted 6:30pm Sunday 24th March 2013 by Dr. Nick.