44 Chapter 44: Basic Health and Wellness Concepts

Health & Nutrition Information that Matters to College Students in the Virgin Islands

Three Diseases with biggest impact in Virgin Islands: (those which take up the most health resources and affect the most Virgin Islanders) [1]

Diabetes – the body’s inability to safely break down sugars and carbohydrates.

Risk factors include: heredity, weight, activity level, and diet (number 3 killer in the VI)

Cardiovascular (Heart) Disease – the disease that is the number one (34%) killer.

Risk factors include: heredity, hypertension (high blood pressure), stress, smoking, substance abuse, weight, diet and activity level – Beware of the dangers of Processed Foods and Fast Foods – especially their levels of Fat & Sugar.

Cancer – most common: Breast, Lung, Prostate, Colon & Rectal, Skin, Bladder, Testicular, Uterine, Ovarian, Cervical, Blood, Thyroid, Kidney, Oral & Digestive

Risk factors include: heredity, lifestyle and diet, smoking & substance abuse, activity level, overexposure to sun, overexposure to certain chemicals or minerals

       The best defense is Early Detection

Know your body and learn how to recognize warning signs of cancer.

Women should perform a breast self-exam once a month and at the same time every month (as menstrual cycle can affect size and feel of breasts) be alert for any lumps or changes in shape and feeling of breasts. Have regular breast exams by a health professional at least once a year. Yearly mammograms should begin for most women by age 40, sooner if there is a family history of breast cancer. Up to 5% of annual Breast Cancer deaths are men. Women should have regular screening for cervical and ovarian cancer by their health professionals (yearly by age 18, or sooner if they become sexually active). All young people – boys and girls – and their families should speak with a health professional about the benefits of getting the vaccine for the sexually transmitted virus that is linked to reproductive and oral cancers – the HPV – Human Papilloma Virus. Men should perform a testicular self-exam once a month. Be alert for any changes in texture, size and tenderness. Have a testicular exam by a health professional at your regular checkup or more regularly if you have a family history of testicular cancer. Prostate screening should begin no later than age 50 (45 if there is a family history) or sooner if you suspect you may have high risk factors Everyone should have regular screening for colon cancer by age 50, sooner if there is a family history of colon cancer.

For more information about Diabetes, Heart Disease and Cancer see the websites:

Click here for more information about Diabetes.

Click here for more information about Heart Disease.

Click here for more information about Cancer.

Top 5 College Health Risks

Sleep Deprivation: Studies find that many college students suffer from sleep disorders. Sleep is complicated by fluctuating class schedules, social activities, work schedules, and staying up late to cram for exams or excessive partying.  Sleep deprivation leads to increased irritability, anxiety and even weight gain.

Eating Disorders: Gaining a few pounds in your first year may be bad enough, but it will not kill you.  Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa are a different matter, 10-20% of diagnosed cases die from complications relating to these eating disorders.  Eating disorders are a serious problem that requires professional help.

Excessive Partying: Drugs and alcohol have always been a part of college campuses.  An alarming trend is the increase in alcohol poisoning and alcohol related deaths.  Overindulgence is too acceptable among students and the “party hard” culture is leading many students into trouble.

Promiscuous Behavior: Many students begin to explore their boundaries with the removal of previous limitations that may have been placed upon them in high school.  While taking charge of our own lives is an important exercise in maturity, many students fail to do so responsibly and end up regretting their choices.

Emotional Issues: The average college student’s lifestyle is a breeding ground for emotional triggers.  This can lead to stress, anxiety, and depressions. [2]

 

Good Health and Nutrition

  • Healthy Nutritional Habits are important to everyone. Avoid an over-reliance on processed and fast food. Keep tabs on how much fat and sugar are in your diet.
  • Click here to find out about the latest nutritional guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

 

Staying Healthy, Happy and Fit through Exercise and an Active Lifestyle

  • Health experts agree that regular exercise is a vital ingredient for good health
  • Regular Exercise means engaging any activity that increases your heart rate for a minimum of 30 minutes 3 – 5 times a week
  • Examples are power walking, running or jogging, dancing, gym workouts, swimming, sports and games involving physically activity
  • Activities that you enjoy are the best for ensuring dedication
  • Click here for more information about the importance of fitness and exercise from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

 


  1. Virgin Islands Department of Health (2018)
  2. Glass, Al, September 1, 2010, Five Big Health Issues for College Students, retieved from: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2010/08/31/129562240/top-5-college-health-issues-this-year

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