How College Students Choose to Live Article

Excerpt from Article :

Health promoting lifestyle of university students in Saudi Arabia: a cross-sectional assessment



This study was designed to assess the health-promoting lifestyle of students in health colleges and non-health Saudi Arabia


A total of 1656 students participated in this descriptive cross-sectional study. Data gathering was conducted from November 2016 to February 2017 at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia. All participants answered a two-part questionnaire which includes demographic data and questions about determining the healthy lifestyle behaviors of students.


The majority of the participants were females (70.4 %) and 20 % of the participants were overweight and 11.3%, were obese. Only 12.8% of the students were diagnosed with health problem. The analysis show that there was a significant difference between health colleges and non-health colleges with regards to the factors of health responsibility. Seventy percent of the students in both colleges never inspect their bodies at least monthly for physical changes and do not attend educational programs on health care.


Universities are ideal settings for implementing health promotion programs. For this reason, planning and implementing programs to motivate students to be more responsible for their own health, engage in regular physical activity, and practice healthy eating habits and other forms of wellness of paramount importance.

Keywords: Health promoting lifestyle, Students, Healthy behavior, Saudi Arabia,


A health promoting lifestyle is an important determinant of health status and recognized as a major factor for maintenance and improvement of health (Mirghafourvand et al., 2015). Lifestyle factors such as diet, physical activity, and sleep are often perceived modifiable are issues that impact on a person’s health (Garcia-Toro et al., 2012). Lifestyle is a way used by people and during the transition from adolescence to adulthood, students particularly in the college level often experience some unhealthy change in lifestyles. A variety of lifestyle or health related habits such as poor diet leading to malnutrition or obesity, smoking and drinking alcohol, and being less physically active (Butler et al., 2004; Wengreen & Moncur 2009). Furthermore, these unhealthy lifestyles have become more popular among college students in recent years (Keating et al., 2005; Lund et al., 2010). The unfavorable changes in lifestyles have been shown to disturb and cause different health problems like cardio-vascular diseases, hypertension, overweight, metabolic diseases, joint and skeletal problems and even depression (Bourre 2006; Sarbadhikari & Saha 2006). However, the existing evidence on the associations of these lifestyle factors with depression is quite inconsistent (Averina et al., 2005; Demura & Sato 2003; Song et al., 2012).

Moreover, many college students are living away from home for the ?rst time either in student housing or in communities nearby. They are faced with the responsibility for their personal health, lifestyle, and behavior. Young adults develop behaviors that may remain part of their lifestyle into adulthood or that may jeopardize their health status in later life. These behaviors include activities such as assuming responsibility for personal health, participating in physical activities, and acquiring good nutritional habits (Polat et al., 2015). University students are in a dynamic transition period of growth and development that bridges adolescence (high school students) and adulthood (people in the community). This period sees many rapid changes in the body and mind, and in social relationships (WHO, 1977). At this stage, there are various dif?cult life conditions and different lifestyles in the university environment. With the changes in study style and unfamiliar life conditions, many students engage in a wide range of unhealthy habits, such as inadequate nutritional intake, rest, and exercise (Fujii et al., 1998; Hawks et al., 2003; Werch et al., 2007; Wei et al., Teiji et al 2008).

Several studies have reported the relationships among demographic variables and health-promoting behaviors. However, limited studies have found relationships between university year (?rst, second, etc.) and health-promoting behaviors. The purpose of this study is to determine whether or not there were any relationships between university students’ age, gender, whether or not they were living with family, as well as other factors such as body mass index (BMI), their year level, overall score on the Health Promoting Lifestyle Pro?le II (HPLP-II) instrument and three health promoting lifestyle subscales [health responsibility (HR), physical activity (PA) and nutrition (N)]. The study also aims to identify the
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difference between health promoting lifestyles of students in health colleges and non-health colleges. It is hoped that the results of this study will provide information to university administrators and teachers for general education program awareness and health literacy dissemination and help students to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Lastly, since King Saud University is considered the premiere university in the kingdom, results of this study can bring great impact in promoting the health of individuals and the young adult population of Saudi Arabia.

The study by Al-Kandari and Vidal (2007) examined the health-promoting lifestyle profile of 224 nursing students in Kuwait and correlated it with levels of enrollment in nursing courses as well as academic performance. The researchers used Walker’s Health-promoting Lifestyle Profile II instrument to measure the profile of the students’ lifestyle. The students’ academic performance was measured by focusing on grade point average of the individual students and the general grade point average of the whole group. The researchers found significant differences between male and female students regarding their health-promoting lifestyle, as well as regarding their level of physical activity, interpersonal relationships and techniques of managing stress. Age, nationality, and marital status also correlate with health-promoting profiles according to the study’s findings. However, one thing the researchers failed to find was an association between health-promoting lifestyles and academic performance. This lack of association may be superficial or authentic, and one of the aims of this present study is to follow up on the findings of Al-Kandari and Vidal (2007) and close any gaps left by their research.

The study by Farghaly, Ghazali, Al-Wabel et al. (2007) focused on the lifestyle habits of school students. Specifically, the researchers examined the role of life style and nutrition in impacting school students in Saudi Arabia. The researchers conducted a two-stage random sample to select 767 male and female students at a variety of levels of schooling. The participants completed a questionnaire: information about weight, height and body mass index was obtained. The findings showed that students suffering from poor health (typically obesity) were most commonly females of younger levels of education. The study indicated that poor health-promotion in lifestyles of students can begin at an early age and that schools should do more to understand the lifestyles of students. This present study aims to provide a better understanding of students’ lifestyles so that their health can be better addressed.


A total of 1656 samples of students from different colleges were available for analysis. Demographics of the participants are presented in Table 1. The majority of the participants were females (70.4 %), 29.6 % were male, 57.4 % were 20 years of age or younger, 40.0 % were in the range of 21–30 years old, 2.4 % were 31– 40 years of age and only 0.2% were 41 or older. Regarding their health status, 50% were of normal weight, 11.1% were underweight, 11.3%, were obese and 20.8% were overweight. Almost all of the participants had a traditional type of family structure having 76.1%, while 13.5% consisted of an extended family structure, and 10.4% came from single parent homes. The majority of the participants (94.9 percent) lived with their families, 1.2% lived with friends, 0.9% with their relatives, 2.4% lived in university housing and 0.3% lived alone. Only 12.8% of the students were diagnosed with health problem.

The difference in health lifestyle among non-health colleges and health colleges is shown in Table 2. The analysis revealed that there was a significant differences across response waves among health colleges and non-health colleges with health responsibility. Only a small proportion of students both in health (11.5%) and non – health colleges (6%) reported any unusual signs or symptoms to a physician or other health professional. Mostly half of the students in both colleges were getting information and discussing health concerns with health professionals. Meanwhile, almost half of the students were sometimes reading or watching TV programs about improving their health. Nearly seventy percent of the students in both colleges never inspect their body at least monthly for physical changes. Furthermore, the majority of the students in both colleges do not attend educational programs on health care. There was a significant difference in students seeking guidance or counseling between non-health and health colleges (p =0.001).

With regards to physical activity and exercise of students in non-health and health colleges, a significant difference was found in following a planned exercise program (p=0.019) and taking part in leisure time and physical activities (p=0.013). A total of 35.3 % of students in non- health colleges and 37.8% students in health colleges indicated that they exercise vigorously for 20 or more minutes…

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