Health Issues Among College Students

In the United States today it is very easy to find something unhealthy or someone who is not so healthy themselves. This may come from many reasons; beginning with diet, smoking, or maybe just your lifestyle. These factors tend to host a very big problem for young college students.

Most college students live a fast lifestyle and the things they eat reflect that lifestyle. A student doesn’t want to eat what’s healthy, instead they would rather eat what’s convenient. Balancing class, studying and socializing, eating comes secondary and a lot of the times is done while doing one of the other three things I mentioned. This is a very unhealthy diet and that’s why they coined the phrase “freshman fifteen”. This refers to the weight an incoming freshman gains from an unhealthy diet.

According to Judith C. Rodriguez who states “This weight gain is related to stress, a sedentary lifestyle, and changes in food intake and diet patterns, and it is not unique to American college students—international students attending American universities become heavier, too.”(1) The majority of US freshman are unemployed and depend upon on campus dinning to eat.

These cafeteria style restaurants allow students to eat unmeasured portions of food. These dinning also are recommended to serve what is most desirable to young people as well, i.e. pizza, hamburgers, and french fries. These foods may taste best but are not the healthiest things to eat on an everyday basis and this shows on all our college students around the nation.

There are many other issues that play a part in the health problems of our college students today but smoking is one of the biggest. A lot of college students don’t begin to smoke until they reach college. “28% of college students who smoke begin to smoke regularly at or after the age of 19, when most were already in college.”(Wechsler 1)

Some students contribute their smoking to the amount of pressure they are under but it may result from the peer pressure of others that smoke. When a freshman goes away to college he or she becomes “independent” in his or her own mind. They see others who smoke and may think it’s cool or may want to try it and they have no parental guidance there to stop them or anyone that they may feel the need to hide it from.

Big tobacco companies know these same factors and use this set of individual as their target market. Tobacco companies use their advertisements and marketing to target this group. They also sponsor certain activities that are held by the University and distribute specialty items. There are a few steps that can be taken to help prevent this dilemma.

The campus can limit the smoking areas on campus and make it punishable if caught smoking anywhere other than the designated areas. Also Universities can limit the tobacco advertising on campus and the stores could increase cigarette prices. The numbers may not decrease immediately but if smoking is made less convenient on college campuses then over time it will start to show some improvement.

Probably the most reoccurring and harmful health issue is the fast lifestyle that college students live in today’s society. There is a lot of partying and alcohol not to mention the sex and drug usage. These things may take a toll on a human body worse than any other factor.

The first thing a young 18 or 19 year old kid wants to do when he gets to college is party. That’s the first thing on his or her mind and the majority of the time it’s the first thing they do. With this partying comes the availableness of drugs and alcohol. According to MADD (mothers against drunk driving) “1,700 college students die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.” (2) Not only do college students suffer in car accidents under the influence but the effects of binge drinking which is most commonly done take a toll upon the body as well.

Heavy levels of alcohol consumption can ruin the liver and damage the brain stem causing loss of motor skills. While under the influence of alcohol decision making may be alter and one may engage in activities that are very unsafe. “400,000 have unprotected sex and more than 100,000 report being too intoxicated to know if they consented to sex.” (MADD 4) With the high number of STD contractions on college campuses unprotected sex is a big issue. There are many disease and infections that can be encountered from having intercourse. College students tend to be with many partners and not get tested or even know their HIV status.

Of all diseases Chlamydia is the most prevalent. Studies show that 10 to 15 percent of every college student has or is infected with Chlamydia. Universities try to organize safe sex exhibits and promote the use of condoms by giving them away free and making them available in the dorms. There isn’t much more the school can do other than provide the students with protection and give them the information on STD and just hope the students listen.

In closing I would like to say that college should be a safe and healthy place to learn, but in today’s society it’s becoming more and more dangerous and unhealthy. The food and environment pose a big problem on the health of the students, but there isn’t really much more the Universities can do. In the end it is up to the students, faculty, and staff to make the changes that need to be made to improve these things. It will take more than one person or one University, but one is where it all has to start.