Objective: To estimate the prevalence of obesity and high blood pressure among undergraduate students of a university medical college.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted at a medical college among 434 medical students. A questionnaire was used to collect basic demographic details, followed by anthropometric measurements. Body mass index (BMI) was classified according to the World Health Organization classification. Blood pressure was measured with a standard mercury sphygmomanometer and classified according to the seventh report of the Joint National Committee (JNC VII) on prevention, detection, evaluation, and treatment of high blood pressure. Data were entered into and analyzed with SPSS version 15.0.
Results: Nearly 65.0% of students had normal BMI, 9.9% were underweight, 17.9% were overweight, and 7.6% were obese. Obesity was more prevalent among males than among females on the basis of anthropometric variables such as BMI, waist-hip ratio, and waist-stature ratio, and this difference was found to be statistically significant. Blood pressure was in the normal range among 55.0% of the students, 36.6% had blood pressure in the prehypertensive range, 7.6% had blood pressure in the stage 1 category of the JNC VII criteria, and 0.5% had blood pressure in the stage 2 category of the JNC VII criteria. Among the students who had blood pressure greater than 140/90 mm Hg, 63.0% were males and 37.0% were females, and this difference was statistically significant.
Conclusion: The prevalence of obesity was 7.6% and that of high blood pressure was 8.1% among the medical students, which were higher than those reported in the literature for the same age group and warrant further evaluation.
Statement of Significance: Non-communicable diseases have been described as the modern epidemic of the current era. A retrograde age shift is being noted in the prevalence of diseases such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and obesity, which is alarming. Young adults are at an increased risk of developing these diseases because of indulgence in faulty lifestyle practices. The present study attempted to quantify the risk among medical students. The prevalence of obesity was 7.6% and that of high blood pressure was 8.1% among the medical students, which were higher than those reported in the literature for the same age group. Future medical professionals need to be aware of their own risk factors and take proactive steps before advising and encouraging their patients to adopt healthy lifestyles.