Risk factors for cardiovascular disease among undergraduate students in Edinburgh, Scotland
MetadataShow full item record
An exploratory descriptive survey with a correlational design examined the risk factors for cardiovascular disease among a convenience sample of university students at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. The first survey, with 156 students, identified several risk factors, including obesity, low of physical inactivity, consumption of alcohol and soft drinks with extrinsic sugars, not eating fruit and vegetables, and smoking tobacco. The second survey, with 40 students, provided more detailed information on dietary factors analysed by cluster and principal component analysis. The students were classified into four groups. One group (7.5% of the students) exhibited the greatest level of risk factors, including the highest BMI, body fat, waist to hip ratio, blood pressure, LDL-cholesterol, fasting glucose, the lowest HDL cholesterol, the highest mean intake of alcohol, chloride saturated fatty acids and total sugars and intake of dietary fibre. The relationships between the risk factors were revealed by a structural equation model with a moderate effect size (R2 = 48.9%). This model indicated that the BMI, body fat, and waist to hip ratio were higher if the students were smokers and consumed large amounts of alcohol, saturated fatty acids, salt, and sugars. The anthropometric measurements were also higher if the students had high levels of blood pressure, blood glucose, and LDL-cholesterol. The anthropometric measures were lower if the students consumed high amounts of dietary fibre, consumed at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every day, and had a high level of physical activity. More research and education including a health education programme based on a plan-do-study-act cycle is recommended to improve student awareness of their exposure to multiple risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and to determine how these risk factors can be alleviated in the future.