Feds Spend $1.1 Million Studying the ‘Freshman 15’

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has spent over $1.1 million studying the “freshman 15,” trying to determine whether friends influence their college peers to eat more.

Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) highlighted the project as an example of wasteful spending, calling out the agency for studying a myth invented by Seventeen magazine.

“The ‘freshman 15’ is an old legend around college campuses; the idea that new college students, away from home and confronted with a campus food service smorgasbord tend to put on a few extra pounds,” Paul’s latest edition of “The Waste Report” reads. “Well the National Institutes for Health aims to get to the bottom of this with a $380,000 grant to study how social relationships in college contribute to weight-related problems. Because it’s not the food you eat, it’s the friends you make.”

Arizona State University received a $380,272 grant for the study this year. The project has cost taxpayers $1,143,919 overall since it began in 2013.

The grant for the project argues there is a “lack of research focusing on the role of friends” on eating habits. The study is tracking “how friendships are created” to “better describe the mechanisms by which friends are prospectively associated with weight-related behaviors and outcomes.”