The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Friday, August 17, 2007

Does College make you fat?

I remember being slim once. It was before I went to University. So slender was I, that I even had the proverbial "six-pack". Ah well. So, am I alone in my observation? Am I the only one to leave University heavier than when I arrived?

No. Not by a long way, if a 2005 study by researchers at Washington University, St. Louis is anything to go by. The work was published in the Journal of American College Health.

Principal investigator, Susan S. Deusinger, obtained height and weight data for 764 incoming freshmen at Washington University. At the end of the year, students being students (and therefore implicitly unreliable) only 290 returned for reassessment, despite being offered financial incentives.

However this was enough to decide whether the folklore of the "Freshman 15" (the number of pounds you would gain, along with your courseload in your first year), had any substance. It did. But not quite 15 pounds. Seventy per cent of freshmen students gained an average of nine pounds in their first year.

Researchers were unable to pinpoint a cause. They noted that there were no noticeable changes in dietary habits, or exercise levels from the start of the year, to the end (awful at both ends, by all accounts). Whatever the cause of the gain, it does show that going to College, does make you fat.

Parents of College going children, have, thus, one more thing to worry about: the health of their offspring. It might be wise to educate them a little in wise food choices - and other lifestyle measures, before they leave your sight.

Note, however, that this study only examined the American college student population - it did not address the issue of whether this was a global phenomenon (though it probably is).

(If you would like to read of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and eight months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and one month, or Tiarnan, eighteen months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, genetics, left-handedness, College, University, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 5:20 PM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shame on the researchers for not being able to figure out a rather obvious source for the freshman 15. They noted there was no change in dietary habits from the beginning of freshman year to the end yet still weight was gained.

That is because the dietary change is NOT from what you eat your first month in school to what you eat during your last. The change is from what you eat when your parents provide the bulk of the food to what you eat when they don't. Since the researchers started measuring dietary habits starting at the beginning of the semester they saw no change because the change had ALREADY happened prior to when they started measuring. It happened as soon as the parents drove away and left the college freshman to his own devices for procuring food.

Like so many others I gained a little weight my first year. This was simply because dorm cafeteria food was more caloric than what my mother cooked. Why this sailed right over the heads of researchers I have no idea. Not very thorough research. They should have at least TRIED to figure out how these kids were eating when their parents were providing the food.

12:27 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

You may be right. The report I read did not make clear whether they had checked what the students' diet/exercise was BEFORE they came to University. It just said that they took a sample at the beginning of the year, and compared it to the end.

Perhaps they did ascertain their familial diet - but if so, they did not state that.

So, you may have pinpointed their error of understanding.

Best wishes

10:53 AM  

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