Campus Living Not the Picture of Health; Student Finances Hurting, Too

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Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

America's college students are in a worrisome state of health, according to a study released yesterday.

Most drink and are sexually active, many have been diagnosed with mental illness, and plenty are fat and in debt, says the University of Minnesota, which surveyed 10,000 students from 14 campuses across the state.

"College students face multiple risks to their health, and their behavior affects all parts of their existence," said Dr. Edward P. Ehlinger, director of the school's Boynton Health Service, which coordinated the research.

It is the first comprehensive analysis of campus health issues, and it reflects national trends, Dr. Ehlinger said.

Nearly eight out of 10 students reported being sexually active, while 71 percent drink alcohol. An additional 37 percent described their drinking habits as "high risk," consuming five or more drinks at one sitting. A quarter of the young respondents smoke or use smokeless tobacco.

Many also appear to be troubled: 27 percent said they had been formally diagnosed with a "mental health illness," with depression and anxiety leading the list. Among young women, 23 percent said they were sexually assaulted, with "lingering impact" on their studies.

The collegiate population also is getting fat and inactive: 39 percent are considered clinically overweight or obese. An additional 41 percent admitted that excessive computer and Internet use was having a serious effect on their academic performance. …