Clueless! Young Adults and College Students Know Little about Eating Healthy
August 14, 2014
Two studies at Northwestern University show that college students and young adults in general, have little knowledge about healthy eating. Ignorance may be bliss, but as far as diet is concerned it is putting young people at risk for disease later in life.
In the first study, researchers followed more than 3,500 originally healthy young adults (starting age 18 to 30) for 20 years, and over that time monitored 5 positive lifestyle factors: not overweight or obese, low alcohol intake, healthy diet, physically active, and not smoking.
What the researchers found was to be expected: healthy lifestyle changes during young adulthood are linked to decreased risk of arterial disease in middle age. Unhealthy habits are linked to increased risk. While the benefits of healthy habits are well-known, it had been unclear whether making health behavior changes as a young adult could still alter coronary artery disease risk.
The second study found that the majority of college students engage in unhealthy behaviors that can increase their risk of cancer later on in life. A startling 95 percent of students fail to eat the recommended five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables and more than 60 percent don’t get adequate physical activity ─ at least 20 minutes of vigorous activity 3 or more days a week or at least 5 days with a half-hour of moderate exercise. The worst results were among racial minorities, especially African Americans and Native Americans.
Read the studies below:
- Healthy Lifestyle Change and Subclinical Atherosclerosis in Young Adults: Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study.
- A latent class analysis of cancer risk behaviors among U.S. college students.