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Want to stay slim? Get a chubby roommate

Jenna Johnson

Here's a quality that you don't see mentioned in many roommate ads...

Wanted: Heavy-set roommate whose chubbiness can motivate me not to gain weight this semester. Bonus points if you like light beer.

Researchers from the University of Michigan and Marquette University decided to study the dreaded "Freshman 15" (more accurately, the "Freshman 2.5 to 6") by looking at the effect of random roommate assignments.

They found that women who lived with a heavier-than-average roommate gained only half a pound of weight -- instead of the average 2.5 pounds gained by women with chubby roommates, according to a University of Michigan press release.

Wait. So, why?

Kandice Kapinos, an assistant research scientist at Michigan, said heavier roommates are more likely to diet, exercise, use weight loss supplements and purchase more-limited meal plans.

"It's not really the weight of your roommate that's important, but the behaviors your roommate engages in," Kapinos said in the press release. "These behaviors are what may really be 'contagious.'"

For the study, researchers assessed 144 female college freshmen with randomly assigned roommates. You can read more about their work here.

Campus Overload is a daily must-read for all college students. Make sure to bookmark http://washingtonpost.com/campus-overload. You can also follow me on Twitter and fan Campus Overload on Facebook.

By Jenna Johnson  | September 23, 2010; 2:05 PM ET
Categories:  News Overload  | Tags:  Marquette, University of Michigan  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: U. of Minnesota exposes 'The Other Hangover'
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Comments

What's the difference between heavier-than-average and chubby?

Posted by: ajlpenguin | September 23, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

I think it's because a heavier roommate is more likely to eat your food.

Posted by: adm19103 | September 24, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

"I think it's because a heavier roommate is more likely to eat your food."

A+

Posted by: maus92 | September 24, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

ajlpenguin is right, this makes no sense, needs a little more proofreading: "They found that women who lived with a heavier-than-average roommate gained only half a pound of weight -- instead of the average 2.5 pounds gained by women with chubby roommates"

Posted by: morth | September 24, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

This didn't help the clarity, either: "Kandice Kapinos, an assistant research scientist at Michigan, said heavier roommates are more likely to diet, exercise, use weight loss supplements and purchase more-limited meal plans."

...um, "heavier roommates?" Or maybe "women with heavier roommates?"

Posted by: carlaclaws | September 24, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

My college roommate was bulimic, back in the early 70's before I had ever heard the word or about the phenomenon. Like many classic bulimics, she ate everything in sight plus more and then vomited. I have a very sensitive gag reflux which got started up every time I heard her losing her dinner in the bathroom. I compensated by eating as little as possible when I was going to be in our room for the evening. She was desperate to lose weight but I lost quite a bit that year. Our room was always full of lots and lots of food but I lost my appetite at the thought of tasting it a second time around when she started vomiting. What a revelation when TIME did an article on bulimia and I found out that she didn't just have a stomach virus that lasted and lasted! My point is that the roommate/food relationship is complex.

Posted by: judy1234 | September 24, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

As others stated, this article makes no sense, like this sentence: "heavier roommates are more likely to diet, exercise, use weight loss supplements and purchase more-limited meal plans." Really? Heavy roomates do all that stuff to lose weight but don't? Or are they saying heavier rommates do this as opposed to chubby roomates? Or are they saying women with heavier roomates do this? what the heck?

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