ONE thing that almost all international students can agree on is that since coming to study in Australia, they have all gained weight. Trinity College Foundation Studies students Steven Zhuang, Lindsay Huang and Kaylin Chen investigate why that might be and the strategies students can adopt to overcome it.
You’ve been studying in Melbourne for a few months now and you’re feeling pretty good about yourself. You’ve knocked back a few assignments and want to celebrate by spending money on some new clothes. But when you try on the size you usually buy, it turns out to be a lot tighter and smaller than you had anticipated.
Surprisingly, this is quite a common theme for many international students who come to Australia for study but why is that?
After talking to several Trinity College Foundation Studies students, it would appear that more than half of these overseas students have gained weight since they came to Melbourne.
We decided to conduct a survey to find out the reasons behind this abnormal phenomenon and the results were interesting to say the least.
Reasons for gaining weight: Overeating, fast food and laziness
After asking 30 students about why they think they may have gained weight, it was easily determined that a student’s diet was the main culprit behind weight-gain. As exemplified in the pie chart above, nearly half of Trinity’s students put on weight from overeating on snacks.
One environmental studies student told us she couldn’t stop eating cakes and bread because sweet food in Melbourne was too delicious.
Of the students surveyed, 29 per cent said fast food contributed to their weight gain simply because they didn’t have time to cook at home. The best alternative for these students was to buy fast food from places such as Subway in Union House.
Students also felt that having an irregular daily routine as well as lack of exercise contributed to their weight gain.
Interestingly, one student mentioned that the weather in Melbourne caused her to gain weight. With Melbourne’s cold weather, this student felt she could barely go out and eat properly thus causing her to become more lazy.
Solutions to losing weight
Most students we talked to felt that putting on weight was a normal occurrence however few have taken action to get back into shape simply because they aren’t worried about their figures.
That being said, a majority of students have taken steps to try and lose the weight they’ve gained in Melbourne.
Simple exercises such as walking and doing yoga were preferred among 40 per cent of the students surveyed.
Meanwhile, a further 27 per cent of students said they tried to cook for themselves in order to reduce their daily fat intake.
For example, an economics student thought that food he cooked himself would contain less calories and fat and would therefore be healthy. As a result, he had successfully lost 1kg since starting to cook for himself.
Students also advised that having a regular daily routine could control the weight-gain. A percentage of students also said eating less sweet food could help reduce weight. With some sweet food in Melbourne such as cupcakes and muffins, that for some overseas students can only be bought in Melbourne and not back home, students can’t help but put on weight by eating fantasy desserts that they’ve always heard about.
A smaller group of students, about 2 per cent, also suggested other methods such as taking diet pills.
But what was really surprising for the majority of students surveyed was the rate at which they gained their weight. One student claims she gained 7 kg in her first four months living in Melbourne. However, after seeing how much weight she had gained she decided to lose weight.
Although one participant in the survey said weight-gain was inevitable, many others felt that if students were to adopt a healthier lifestyle and paid more attention to their body, then there might be a considerably less portion of international students worrying about their weight in the future.
This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collab. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org.