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With school back in session, college students across Wisconsin are exploring some of the freedoms of being on their own -- one of which could have a major impact on their health -- their diet.

It's an unwelcome part of the new student experience -- the dreaded "freshman 15."



"Stress eating comes into play, first time away from home, they're a little anxious about that," said Marianne Merrick, nutritionist at St. Mary's hospital. "Study habits, eating while they're studying can contribute."



Weight gain is common among college students, according to nutritionists, and many factors are to blame. Dining managers at the University of Wisconsin are working to give students healthy options.



"We offer many choices," said Brian Burke, food manager. "We have a salad bar with 20 to 30 items. We always have four entrees in the serving line, fruit bars. They can get sandwiches made just the way they like them."



This is not your standard cafeteria food, according to students. They say many of the entrees remind them of home-cooked meals. Plus, students can get on-site nutrition information.



"There are nutritional labels which tell you how many grams of carbs, how many fat grams, all the calories," said student Kayla Simonson.



Counting those calories, along with a regular exercise routine, are key to a healthy lifestyle.



"We need to look at that as prevention before they start school, especially the first year primarily because that's establishing habits for later years in life," said Merrick.



http://www.housing.wisc.edu/dining/

Avoiding the Freshman 15

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