Health Assessment Data Collection as Part of a College Wellness Course
The purpose of this investigation was to examine the comprehensive data set of health of college students regarding cardiovascular risk factors, specifically body mass index (BMI), blood pressure (BP), fasting lipid profile, and glucose and to compare results to similar studies. Results were also used to educate individual students regarding their specific risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Two hundred twenty-five undergraduate students enrolled in a lifetime wellness core course participated in a basic health screening, which included BP, resting heart rate, height, weight, and BMI, and 136 students completed the comprehensive health assessment, which included all of the above plus fasting lipid profile (total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides) and glucose testing. Of the participants, 110 were male and 115 were female (Mage = 19.67 years).
More than half of the participants in this study were classified as being overweight or obese according to their BMI calculation. A positive moderate linear relationship was found between BMI and age. The mean BP of the participants was 121/74, which is well within the optimal range, but 8% of the participants had elevated BP readings, placing them at risk. The mean total cholesterol level was 164 mg/dL, which falls in the optimal category. Fourteen percent, however, had total cholesterol levels greater than 200mg/dL, which indicates a risk factor for CVD. On a positive note, 63% of the participants had acceptable levels and 21% had optimal levels of HDL. Likewise, 66% of the participants had optimal LDL levels less than 100 mg/dL. Twenty-two percent had mildly elevated levels, and 12% had levels that were high enough to constitute a risk factor. Additionally, the participants were tested for diabetes, which also increases the risk of CVD. Most of the participants (99%) had normal glucose levels.
This study supports the evidence that college students have significant risk factors for CVD. Seventy-three percent of the participants were found to have at least one risk factor and 15% had multiple risk factors. The findings have important implications for future prevention and educational initiatives. Specifically, this knowledge will assist in providing effective programming and curriculum to support behavior change in college students considering the window of opportunity available at the college setting.
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