by Susannah Griffin
Typically, university students are known to live an unhealthy lifestyle. Binge drinking, a lack of sleep and a poor diet are all factors which contribute to this. Students are notorious for constantly going out, but this causes many students to become consistently hungover and fatigued. This ultimately leads to illness and students being unable to attend lectures due to sleep deprivation. Students often see energy drinks as a quick way to cure tiredness, however, these are thought to have a negative effect on the body as they are high in sugar and have been linked to liver damage, high blood pressure and increased heart rate.
Meanwhile, a diet lacking in nutrition and essential elements can also take its toll on the health of a student. Ready meals, fast food and frozen food are examples of the type of sustenance a typical student may frequently consume. Initially, this type of food may seem like the best option, as it’s easy and quick to prepare, however, in the long run it’s not benefitting students whatsoever; it often contains lots of salt, saturated fat and lacks nutritional value. Fresh fruit and vegetables, protein, carbohydrates and essential fats are all vital components in a healthy diet. Although many students may find this difficult to incorporate into their lifestyle, it is important as the different food groups provide essential vitamins and minerals, some of which can boost the immune system and prevent fatigue. Therefore, a diet lacking in variety and nutritional value could eventually damage the health of many students, which is not ideal considering their busy lifestyles.
Nevertheless, a poor diet and sleep deprivation is easily something which can be gradually altered by an individual. It is other factors such as alcohol and smoking which can cause serious and irreversible damage. Most students go on multiple nights out every week, as it provides relief from the stress of working hard and allows students to make the most of university life. However, many individuals consume a vast amount of alcohol on each night out, which not only increases the risk of future health problems such as liver disease, it can also have an impact on an individual’s actions at the time. According to ‘Drinkaware’, “Accidents and falls are common because being drunk affects your balance, co-ordination… and memory”, whilst “Overdosing on alcohol” can stop your heart, breathing, or “you could choke on your vomit”. Therefore, it’s important that students realise the dangers of binge drinking. Although it would be unrealistic to expect students to stop drinking completely, they should still be able to enjoy themselves by drinking in moderation rather than binging.
In relation to this, smoking is another damaging habit which effects students. ‘Social smoking’ has become particularly common amongst students, who only smoke when they’re on a night out or socialising. However, only smoking occasionally and ‘socially’ doesn’t make you immune to the risks of smoking. Tobacco use claims up to six million lives per year through lung diseases, heart disease and cancer and each cigarette increases the risk of these diseases. Smoking is one of the worst killers in the UK, therefore it is vital that students (the future of our society) stop smoking, even if they do only do it ‘socially’. This is a realistic prospect as many of the world’s governments are behind a tobacco ban and are beginning to oppose the multinational tobacco companies standing in the way of global progress. Furthermore, India is preparing to host a key global anti-tobacco conference of the parties to the World Health Organisation framework convention on tobacco control (2). Therefore, it seems likely that smoking is something not only the UK, but the world will eventually combat.