CHICAGO --- Parents, forget the comfort food! It's time to send your college students care packages of fruit, veggies and exercise gear instead.
A new study from Northwestern Medicine and Northeastern Illinois University found that the majority of college students are engaging in unhealthy behaviors that could increase their risk of cancer later on. Racial minority students could be at an even greater risk, especially African Americans and Native Americans.
A shocking 95 percent of college students fail to eat the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables (five or more servings a day), and more than 60 percent report not getting enough physical activity (three or more days of vigorous exercise for at least 20 minutes or five or more days of moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes a week).
"Changing unhealthy behaviors in college students now could be a way to reduce the risk of cancer as well as other diseases later in life," said Brian Hitsman, principal investigator of the study.
Hitsman is an assistant professor in preventive medicine-behavioral medicine and psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.
Published online May 5 in the journal Preventive Medicine, the study is the first to evaluate cancer risk behaviors and conditions in college students and how they vary by race and ethnicity. Data for the study comes from the fall 2010 wave of the National College Health Assessment, a self-reported survey of a diverse group of more than 30,000 college students in the United States.
The majority of all college students surveyed reported low fruit and vegetable consumption and low physical activity. Other unhealthy behaviors or conditions -- alcohol binge drinking, tobacco use and obesity/being overweight -- appear to cluster differently among college students de
|Contact: Erin White|