Which college students are at higher health risk?

Am J Mens Health. 2010 Mar;4(1):41-9. doi: 10.1177/1557988308327321. Epub 2008 Nov 25.


An electronic health risk appraisal was used to determine which demographic factors were associated with higher health risk among college students at an urban state university. Students' real age was assessed as the primary indicator of health risk and it was associated to demographic characteristics. Real age represents the physiological age of the body based on lifestyle choices, and this is often different to chronological age. Approximately 26.0% of 576 students were more than 5 years older than their chronological age, 29.8% were 0 to 5 years older, 29.8% were 0 to 5 years younger, and 14.1% were more than 5 years younger than their chronological age. Students who were male, Black, and nonnutrition majors had significantly higher positive real age differentials: their bodies were more likely to be more than 5 years older than their chronological age. Students with significantly lower negative real age differential--those whose real age was lower than their chronological age--were female and nutrition majors. Students were significantly more likely to report that they were "very motivated" if they were female (88.6%), compared with male (66.7%). These data suggest that when health disparities are assessed at the level of real age differential and motivation to make lifestyle changes, male Black college students are at highest health risk and they are less likely to be "very motivated" to make lifestyle changes than their peers.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • African Americans*
  • Age Factors
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Status*
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States
  • Universities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult