Attitudes and practice of healthy lifestyle in young African American student population.
Avinash M Topè, Phyllis F Rogers
Background: More young adults, especially young African Americans (AA) are at greater risk for Metabolic Syndrome (MetS). Screening to determine its prevalence and evaluation of attitudes and practice of healthy lifestyles in this population is critical. Objective: The objective was to evaluate the attitudes and ascertain life style choices and the risk for MetS among college students comprising mostly AA young adults at a historically black college (HBCU). Participants: Each fall since 2009, freshmen students 18-24 years of age (n=376) attending Kentucky State University have participated in the study. Methods: MetS was defined using 2001 National Cholesterol Education Program’s Adult Treatment Panel III. Anthropometrics and blood pressure were obtained, while lipid and glucose concentrations were determined. Results: Overall prevalence of MetS was 12%. More females than males believed in having three nutritious meals a day, maintaining a healthy weight, and reported avoiding use of alcohol and tobacco than males. However, more females than males had higher Body Mass Index (BMI) as well as waist circumference (WC). More males than females reported greater frequency of being physically active and having seven hours of sleep for most days in a week. Less than half the participants reported consuming less than the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables and two servings of dairy per day. A statistical correlation was found between high WC and lack of minimum exercise and between high blood pressure (BP) and vegetable intake. Conclusions: Young AA adults have and are at a significantly higher risk for MetS. It is critical in any college setting, especially in HBCUs to re-implement the practice of performing physical examination at the time of admission and to collect and analyze the data from the health history of the students to offer well targeted Health Education Programs around healthy life style choices.