Simultaneity of behavioral risk factors for chronic non-communicable disease among low-income undergraduate students from a city in southern Brazil

Abstract Background Few studies have investigated the prevalence and correlates of risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among low-income undergraduate students in Brazil. Objective To investigate the co-occurrence of the main behavioral risk factors for NCDs (physical inactivity, low fruit and vegetables intake, binge drinking and smoking) in this population. Method Cross-sectional study was carried out during 2013, with 766 undergraduate students living in student housing at the Universidade Federal de Santa Maria, RS, Brazil. The simultaneous prevalence of risk factors was evaluated by a score created from the sum of individual behaviors. Poisson regression was applied for evaluating the associated factors with ≥3 risk factors, simultaneously. Results It was observed that 1.8% of students show no risk factor, while 19.5%, 49.3%, 24.9% and 4.5% presented one, two, three and four risk factors, respectively. Male (PR=1.35; 95%CI: 1.08-1.69), overweight/obesity (PR=1.37; 95%CI: 1.08-1.73) and morbidity history (PR=2.09; 95%CI: 1.52-2.87), only in males, were associated with the co-occurrence of risk factors. The combination involving all four risk factors showed a higher prevalence than the expected (O/E=1.76: 95%CI: 1.24-2.50). Conclusion The simultaneous prevalence of risk factors in low-income college students was high, this finding that may help in the formulation of prevention programs and interventions.