As soon as you embark upon student life, you are faced with numerous new challenges. Everyone has been telling you that the first year of uni is about having fun, moving out and finding yourself. But why is it that nobody told you that you’d find yourself… a stone and a half heavier?
The Freshers’ 15 is a title that is given to the average number of pounds that a fresher will put on in their first year of uni. That sounds ridiculous, and if you’re not aware of it, it’ll creep up on you. Unfortunately, it’s not all that ridiculous. As a student, you’re poor. Nuff Said. You get a loan that barely covers your rent, you’ve scraped some savings together from your bar job over the summer and you definitely don’t want a vegetable medley for dinner when there’s chicken nuggets on offer. Your budgeting skills go as far to know that you need a tenner for your night out and you’re a bit peckish. What to do?
Never fear. Dominoes, Subway, McDonald’s and the like are all ready to save the day. Especially during Freshers’ Week, Dominoes give away unlimited free pizzas, Subway have an offer of a free Sub with every drink and Maccy D’s give away free cheeseburgers with every meal if you have a student card. So especially for the first couple of weeks, you’re being fed for less than a fiver. Bargain! Once you’re all full up, it’s time to hit the shower and get ready for your night out, where chances are, Vodbulls will be £1, Alcopos will be £1 and pints will be £1.
When calorific food and drink is, literally, cheap as chips, it’s a miracle that the Freshers’ 15 isn’t the Freshers’ 25. Fresh veg can be expensive and wasteful for just one person, and the culinary skills of the average fresher aren’t extensive. You may only be allocated one shelf of the fridge and freezer, so buying fresh food in may not even be plausible. So, back to Maccy’s.
The Freshers’ 15 is almost as contagious at the Freshers’ Flu, and it’s only just coming into practice that restaurants make the calorie counts of their food more widely accessible to the public. People need to make sensible decisions about what they eat and what they do to their bodies. The obvious counter-argument to the Freshers’ 15 is, “go to the gym, you lazy buggers”; however, it’s not quite that simple. If you can’t afford Heinz ketchup and Hellmann’s mayonnaise, how are you supposed to fork out over £100 for a gym membership, when there’s no guarantee that the hangover will let up for long enough for you to actually use it?
It’s a vicious, badly budgeted and poorly funded cycle. You eat, you drink, you get lazy, you do no exercise and you welcome the Freshers’ 15 into your humble abode. For the individual, this isn’t great. It’s not really what you want as a souvenir of your first year of uni, but on a larger scale, it’s not good for anyone. The NHS is under enough pressure as it is, without growing obesity, diabetes and liver failure levels.
I’m calling for someone, somewhere, to open their eyes. Lower gym costs, reduce the number of unhealthy student meal deals and wake people up to their health.