Prevalence of health behaviors and their associated factors among a sample of university students in India

Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2014;26(4):531-40. doi: 10.1515/ijamh-2013-0331.


Objective: With advances in knowledge about health promotion, public health professionals are in search for the determinants of personal health behaviors. The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence of health behaviors and its associated factors in a sample of Indian university students.

Materials and methods: Using a cross-sectional survey, we assessed health behavior among a sample of randomly selected university students. The sample included 800 university students from non-health (mainly engineering and sciences) undergraduate courses of Gitam University, Visakhapatnam in India. The students were 541 (67.6%) males and 259 (32.4%) females in the age range of 17-20 years (Median age=18.2 years, SD=1.0).

Results: On average, students engaged in 15.8 out of 25 health behavior practices. There was a high rate of overweight and obesity (26.8% and 10.7%, respectively), low rate of brushing teeth at least twice a day (28.6%), annual dental check-up (25.8%), habitual seatbelt use (23%), and poor dietary patterns (79% ate less than the recommended fruit and vegetable consumption of five servings a day, and 68.5% did not avoid eating fat and cholesterol). In multivariate analysis among men, personal constraints (Odds Ratio=OR 1.75, Confidence Interval=CI 1.09-2.82), health benefits (OR=2.01, CI=1.27-3.17), and not suffering from depression (OR=0.60, CI=0.22-0.94) were associated with the health behavior index. Among women, those who were living away from their parents or guardians (OR=1.94, CI=1.06-3.55), economically better off (OR=2.16, CI=1.00-4.63), and had higher social support (OR=3.65, CI=1.75-7.63), were associated with the health behavior index.

Discussion: Students had a high proportion of health behavior practices. Several high health risk practices were identified, including overweight, poor dental practices, poor dietary and sleeping habits. It is hoped that the gender-specific predictors identified, including sociodemographics as well as social and mental health variables, can also be utilized in designing health promotion programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk-Taking
  • Social Support
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Universities*
  • Young Adult