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ISSN: 2155-9600
Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences
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The Perception of College Students about a Healthy Lifestyle and its Effect on their Health

Hanaa Ghaleb Al-Amari1* and Nedaa Al-Khamees2

1College of Education, Kuwait University, PO Box: 13281, Kaifan Code No: 71953, Kaifan, Kuwait

2Associate Professor, Kuwait University, PO Box: 13281, Kaifan Code No: 71953, Kaifan, Kuwait

*Corresponding Author:
Hanaa Ghaleb Al-Amari
Associate Professor, College of Education
Kuwait University, P.O.Box: 13281
Kaifan code No: 71953, Kaifan, Kuwait
Tel: 96524840207
Fax: 96524840252
E-mail: [email protected]

Received date: October 26, 2015; Accepted date: November 23, 2015; Published date: November 30, 2015

Citation: Hanaa Ghaleb Al-Amari (2015) The Perception of College Students about a Healthy Lifestyle and its Effect on their Health. J Nutr Food Sci 5:437. doi: 10.4172/2155-9600.1000437

Copyright: © 2015 Hanaa Ghaleb Al-Amari. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Abstract

Health is an aspect of life that is essentially one of the important factors in basic human performance. Health contributes to general well-being and overall lifestyle. This study examined the perception of college students from Kuwait University about a healthy lifestyle and its effect on their health. A healthy lifestyle was measured by diet, exercise, and sleep. For the purpose of the study, a questionnaire was administered to the participants, which included 150 undergraduate college students from Kuwait University, who represented a range of ages, and gender. Computer data entry and analysis was done by using (SPSS). The results of the study illustrates that the majority of college students conduct a moderate healthy lifestyle, only (50.0%) eat a healthy diet, and (48.7%) suffer from iron deficiency anemia (IDA), while (46.3%) get at least seven to nine hours of sleep, (38.7%) suffer from increased body weight (obesity), and (34.0%) only exercise frequently. The study shows that a high percentage, (75.8%) do not take blood test, at least once every 6 months, and (74.0%) of the students, do not drink at least two glasses of milk per day. More research is needed to increase awareness between college students about the effect of a healthy lifestyle on their health.

Keywords

Healthy lifestyle; College students; Diet; Exercise; Sleep

Introduction

Health is a universal trait; the World Health Organization defines health as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease.

Health contributes to general well-being and overall lifestyle. In order for a person to enjoy a quality of life, good health habits must be achieved because basic health determines what a person can do.

There are several factors in a person’s lifestyle that can make them healthy or unhealthy. Basic diet and nutrition aids a person in many different ways. Eating the correct amount of nutrients is essential for the body’s proper functioning. Basic nutrition is the fuel that a body needs to operate.

When students enter college, their diets deteriorate and they gain or lose weight. Meals are often skipped by college students, and management of weight and food intake is often nonexistent or disordered. Class and work schedules change daily as well as every semester. Several factors can be taken to avoid the weight gain and decline in diet quality that may occur during the college years.

The main purpose of this study is to explore the major lifestyle factors among college students, in an effort to improve their behavior and reduce the risk factors for major diseases.

This study contributes significantly in improving the quality of college student’s life, and helps them live longer, free from diseases and illnesses.

Review of Literature

Healthy nutritional choices are necessary for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In his study, Trockel et al. [1], found a positive relationship between eating breakfast and college student’s health. Structured eating patterns help improve students’ academic performance. Also it was found that eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, are more prevalent among female college students than among the general population, Schweitzer.

Sleep is another major aspect in a person’s health. College students have been found to be a population that does not get enough sleep as the typical adult population, Buboltz et al. [2]. Sleep is a natural state for human beings when they are tired. Students who were deprived of sleep for 24 hrs were complaining from headaches and they feel weak and tired. Lack of sleeping results in a decrease of student’s ability to pay attention, and negatively affects their ability to perform exams, Pilcher et al. [3].

Numerous studies have found that insufficient sleep increases a person’s risk of developing serious medical conditions, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Insufficient sleep has been linked to these and other health problems, and is considered an important risk factor. Sleep deprivation affect college student’s health, and their ability to concentrate, Kelly et al. [4].

Not getting enough sleep alters insulin resistance, which is associated with an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and that can be very quickly induced by a single night total sleep loss, Ann [5]. Insufficient sleep may increase the risk of developing high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.

Insufficient sleep increases a person’s risk of developing serious medical conditions, which develop over long periods of time and result from a number of factors, such as genetics, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise, Buboltz et al. [2].

Although scientists have just begun to identify the connections between insufficient sleep and disease. In his study, Pate et al. [6] discussed the relationship between Sleep deprivation and disease risk, sleeping fewer than about eight hours per night on regular basis seems to increase the risk of developing a number of medical conditions.

Most experts have concluded that getting enough high-quality sleep may be as important to health and well-being as nutrition and exercise.

Exercise is another aspect that is important to a person’s health. The health benefits of exercise are essential for enhancing physical activity and extending healthy life. Being active and doing regular bodily exercises can prevent major chronic diseases such as heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, back pain, osteoporosis, joint pains, obesity, and other diseases, Huang et al. [7].

According to the American College Health Association [8], some of the health benefits of exercise ensure physical and mental health. It boosts the immune system and exercise promotes proper sugar levels in the blood.

Daily exercise and a balanced diet affect overall health and wellness. It is good for the normal functioning of bones and protection against osteoporosis, it help reduce high blood pressure, heart ailments, and even cancer, Anding et al. [9].

College is the absolute best time for students to learn the importance of making time and dedicating energy to a health and fitness program, Keating et al. [10].

The human body needs to move, the many benefits of exercise prove that the act of fitness is more than losing weight, exercise can build confidence, reduce and relieve stress, improve learning and mental health, Leslie et al. [11].

Healthy and active individuals are generally those with stronger immune system and are less likely to catch colds and viruses. Research has shown that regular exercise can boost one’s mood and relieve stress, in addition to all the physical health benefits of exercise, Wallhead et al. [12].

Methodology

The study was conducted among undergraduate college students from Kuwait University, in an effort to examine their perception about a healthy lifestyle and its effect on their health. Information was collected via a lifestyle questionnaire, a standard survey tool by Harris [13]. Computer data entry and analysis were undertaken by using SPSS/PC (statistical package for the social sciences). Data analysis included frequency distributions, percentages, means and standard deviations. The questionnaire consists of two sections. The first section requested demographic data including the student’s gender and age. The second section of the questionnaire consists of nine aspects to measure college student’s lifestyle and its effect on their health.

Limitations of the Study

The study was limited to the students in the college of Education at Kuwait University.

Results

One hundred and fifty college students completed the questionnaires, a 100 per cent response rate of which 67.3 per cent were female and 32.7 percent were male. The gender means score was (1.67) and the Std. D was (.471). The student’s age range from 18 to 26 years in the following age groups: 93 students (63.7%) were between 18 and 21 years, and 38 students (26.0%) were between 22 and 24and 15 students (10.3%) were between 25 to26 years old. The age Mean score was (1.47) and Std. D was (.676).

In response to the questions concerning, the perception of college students regarding healthy lifestyle, the results of the study illustrates that, the majority of the college students, conduct a moderate healthy lifestyle (Table 2).

Characteristics  No. of participants  %
Gender
Male 49 32.7
Female 101 67.3
Age
18-21 93 63.7
22-24 38 26
25-26 15 10.3

Table 1: Shows the profile of the participating college students.

Independent Variables Percentage%
Yes No Mean SD
Suffer from iron deficiency anemia 48.7 51.3 1.51 0.501
Suffer from increased body weight 38.7 61.3 1.61 0.489
Exercise frequently 34 66 1.66 0.475
Eat balanced diet 50 50 1.5 0.502
Perform blood test every six months 24.2 75.8 1.76 0.43
Eat breakfast daily 48 52 1.52 0.501
Drink two glasses of milk per day 26 74.2 1.74 0.44
Get seven to nine hours of sleep per night 46.3 53.7 1.54 0.5
Drink eight glasses of water per day 40 60 1.6 0.492

Table 2: Shows the perception of college students about a healthy lifestyle.

Only (50.0%), admitted that they eat a healthy diet, and (48.7%) agreed that they suffer from iron deficiency anemia (IDA), (48.0%) of the students eat breakfast daily, while (46.3%) get at least seven to nine hours of sleep, (40.0%) of college students drink 8 glasses of water per day. In addition, (38.7%) admitted that they suffer from, increased body weight (obesity), and only (34.0%) exercise frequently.

The study shows that (75.8%) do not take blood test at least every 6 months, and (74.2%) do not drink at least two glasses of milk per day.

The highest mean value was (1.76) for performing a blood test at least every six months and the standard deviation was (0.430).

Discussion

The results of the study show that the majority of college students at Kuwait University conduct a moderate healthy lifestyle. It was found that a high percentage of the students are unaware about the importance of taking the routine physical test and blood test at least every six months, to check if they have any medical problem. College students do not take into account the seriousness of their health behaviors, Budd et al. [14].

In addition, it was found that most of the students do not drink at least two glasses of milk daily, and they are not aware that, low calcium intake and vitamin D deficiency, are the main causes of low bone mass disease (osteoporosis), and other bone diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [15]. A high percentage of students suffer from Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA), it is the most widespread nutritional deficiency that affect student’s health because most of them don’t eat a balanced diet.

The study shows that most college students do not care about eating daily breakfast, their diet is not ideal, commonly consisting of cheap, and quick meals, snacks, and soft drinks. All easy access to unhealthy foods on campus, contribute to weight gain or emotional strain, Harris [13].

The study shows that a high percentage of the students, do not exercise frequently, and suffer from increased body weight (obesity). The human body needs to move, the many benefits of exercise prove that the act of fitness is more than just losing weight. Exercise build confidence, reduce and relieve stress, improve learning and mental health, and can build healthy relationships around with common interests in well-being, US department of health and human services, healthy people [16].

The study illustrates that most college students do not care about drinking water, which may cause dehydration and affect their kidney function, and may cause other health problems.

College students should focus on consuming a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and getting adequate amount of sleep, together with exercise and a healthy lifestyle will ensure both physical and mental health.

Conclusion

The outcome of this study is of great concern to public health. Most students attending Kuwait University, college of Education, conduct a moderate healthy lifestyle, which will affect their health; therefore, it is vital that additional in-depth research is conducted on college student’s healthy lifestyle factors, and to extend the study to the other colleges and universities in Kuwait.

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