JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The dreaded "freshman 15." It's a term used to refer to the weight many college students gain within the first two years of going away to college.  What are the biggest pitfalls and what can you do to prevent it? 

"Students gain the most weight within the first semester of college," said Dr. Scot Ackerman, a local oncologist.

Akerman says there are four reasons college students gain weight:

  1. Late night eating
  2. Dining Halls which offer all-you-can-eat buffets
  3. Lack of exercise
  4. Alcohol use


So how can you help your teen avoid packing on the pounds?

Ackerman recommends:

  • Remind your teen about getting enough sleep. Changing sleep patterns affects your metabolism.  Metabolism is what helps your body burn calories and fat.
  • Watch portion controls
  • Choose balanced meals
  • Give your teen some healthy snacks to take with them for their dorm rooms
  • Avoid sodas


Finally, don't forget to exercise.

"In high school, kids play sports, but not all of them play in college," said Ackerman.

There are several apps that can help college students get on a regular exercise program. Ackerman suggests My Fitness Pal, GAIN Fitness, Strava and Coach Alba.