Associations between multiple health risk behaviors and mental health among Chinese college students (2015)

Psychol Health Med. 2015 Jul 29:1-9. [Epub ahead of print]

Ye YL1, Wang PG, Qu GC, Yuan S, Phongsavan P, He QQ.


Although there is substantial evidence that health risk behaviors increase risks of premature morbidity and mortality, little is known about the multiple health risk behaviors in Chinese college students. Here, we investigated the prevalence of multiple health risk behaviors and its relation to mental health among Chinese college students. A cross-sectional study was conducted in Wuhan, China from May to June 2012.

The students reported their health risk behaviors using self-administered questionnaires. Depression and anxiety were assessed using the self-rating depression scale and self-rating anxiety scale, respectively. A total of 2422 college students (1433 males) aged 19.7 ± 1.2 years were participated in the study.

The prevalence of physical inactivity, sleep disturbance, poor dietary behavior, Internet addiction disorder (IAD), frequent alcohol use and current smoking was 62.0, 42.6, 29.8, 22.3, 11.6 and 9.3%, respectively.

Significantly increased risks for depression and anxiety were found among students with frequent alcohol use, sleep disturbance, poor dietary behavior and IAD. Two-step cluster analysis identified two different clusters.

Participants in the cluster with more unhealthy behaviors showed significantly increased risk for depression (odds ratio (OR): 2.21; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.83, 2.67) and anxiety (OR: 2.32; 95%CI: 1.85, 2.92).

This study indicates that a relatively high prevalence of multiple health risk behaviors was found among Chinese college students. Furthermore, the clustering of health risk behaviors was significantly associated with increased risks for depression and anxiety.