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Canadian men gain twice as much weight as women in 1st year university, study says

Average Canadian female student gained 4 pounds, while men gained roughly 8

When students experience hefty weight gain during their first year of university — is real, according to a Canadian study published Wednesday, and men typically pack on twice as many pounds as women.

The average Canadian female student gained about four pounds in her first year of university, compared to the roughly eight pounds added for the average male, said the study from researchers at York University and Brock University, published in the journal PLOS ONE.

"The actual fact our students gained weight was not surprising. This is not a new phenomenon and has been shown many times on university campuses. It's been dubbed the freshman 15," said Andrea Josse, the study's lead author and a professor of research nutritionist at York University in Toronto.

"What was most surprising is the differences between males and females."

The stereotype of undergrads filling up with junk food and washing it down with copious amounts of beer largely holds true, according to the survey of 229 females and 72 males.

Students who arrive at university from a highly restrictive home environment tend to gain the most weight, she said, as they can finally eat whatever they want "and have no one telling them what to do."

On the gender divide, Baker said peer pressure could play a role in differentiating weight gain patterns between men and women, at least based on what she's seen among the students with she works at the UBC cafeteria in Vancouver.

"I do think there is more social pressure from men, especially in a university environment, to eat a bit more and eat that fried chicken and fries. They tend to do what their social group does," she said. "The women have more pressure from their social group to eat healthy and stay slim."

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