31st Jan 2024
Introduction: The diversity of the UK student population has increased dramatically in recent years. Whilst previous literature has identified differences in anthropometric outcomes between gender and ethnic groups, the extent to which these factors influence adverse cardiometabolic health outcomes in students is currently unclear. The present study therefore aimed to identify differences in the prevalence of adverse cardiometabolic health outcomes between gender and ethnic groups in UK university students.
Methods: Physiological testing was conducted across three years (2021-2023). Data from each year were combined to form a single cross-sectional dataset (n=1,299). Independent samples t-tests assessed differences between genders and one-way ANOVAs assessed differences between ethnic groups.
Results: Gender differences were present for all variables other than BMI and diastolic blood pressure (BP). The prevalence of overweight, obesity and hypertension were higher in males compared to females, whereas the prevalence of high waist circumference and high waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) was highest in females. The prevalence of poor glycaemic control was similar between males and females. Additionally, differences between ethnic groups were present for all variables other than hip circumference and diastolic BP (P<0.05). The prevalence of overweight, obesity, high waist circumference and impaired glycaemic control was highest in Black students, whereas the prevalence of high WHR and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) was highest in Asian students. Finally, the prevalence of hypertension was highest in White students.
Conclusions: Overall, the results highlight differences in the prevalence of adverse cardiometabolic health outcomes in UK university students when separated by gender and ethnicity. These findings should be considered when developing strategies to promote healthy lifestyles in the context of higher education.