Open Access Research article

Stress and cardiometabolic manifestations among Saudi students entering universities: a cross-sectional observational study

Nasser M Al-Daghri123*, Abdulaziz Al-Othman14, Omar S Al-Attas123, Khalid M Alkharfy125, Majed S Alokail134, Abdulmajeed Albanyan6, Shaun Sabico12 and George P Chrousos27

Author Affiliations

1 Prince Mutaib Chair for Biomarkers of Osteoporosis, Biochemistry Department, College of Science, King Saud University, P.O. Box, 2455, Riyadh 11451, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

2 Biomarkers Research Program, Biochemistry Department, College of Science, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

3 Center of Excellence in Biotechnology Research Center, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Saudi Arabia

4 College of Applied Medical Sciences, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

5 Clinical Pharmacy Department, College of Pharmacy, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

6 Preparatory Year, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

7 First Department of Pediatrics, Athens University Medical School, Athens 11527, Greece

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:391  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-391

Published: 23 April 2014

Abstract

Background

In this observational study, we aimed to see whether transition in Saudi students entering university life could be a breeding stage for cardiometabolic risk factor emergence and clustering.

Methods

A total of 1878 apparently healthy Saudi students of the Preparatory Year, King Saud University, Riyadh, KSA (1112 men and 766 women) spanning 2 academic years were included. They were divided into 2 groups based on the validated perceived stress test (PST). Anthropometrics were obtained and fasting blood samples were collected for measurement of fasting blood glucose and a lipid profile.

Results

PST score (>27) considered indicative of stress was noted in 44.4% of students. The prevalence of this score was higher in women than in men (49.7% versus 40.7%). The prevalence of obesity, hypertension and dyslipidemia was significantly higher in men than women (pā€‰<ā€‰0.01), and this was even more apparent among stressed men, who had a significantly higher prevalence of all the above cardiometabolic factors than the non-stressed ones (pā€‰<ā€‰0.01).

Conclusion

Perceived stress is alarmingly high among Saudi students entering universities. This study sheds light on the social responsibility of universities in promoting a healthy lifestyle, particularly in this age group, when exposure to different kinds of stressors may result in body weight and metabolic changes.

Keywords:
Stress; Cardiometabolic clustering; Saudi; Students; College life; Perceived stress