Objectives: To explore the lifestyle choices of international medical students attending a student conference. Study Design: Questionnaire-based census study.
Methods: A pre-tested structured questionnaire was given to the 481 delegates attending an international medical student conference in 2009 in Macedonia. The respondents were asked questions on their demographics, physical activity, smoking habits, alcohol consumption, sexual activity and nutritional intake. The results obtained from statistical analysis using SPSS version 16 were used to outline the socio-demographic variables under survey.
Results: An overall response rate of 60.9% (n=293) was achieved. The sample population had a mean age of 22.45, 44% (128) of the respondents were male and 56% (165) were female. 89% were undergraduate students and 62% were from Europe. 78.8% reported practicing physical activity at least once a week, with 4.5% reporting no physical activity at all. Of those who reported practicing physical activity, half carry out more than one hour of activity daily. 22.2% (n=65) smoke on a regular basis, of which 88.7% smoked cigarettes and 11.3% reported smoking marijuana over the previous 12 months. The Eastern Mediterranean Region reported the highest percentage of smoking (31.6%), followed by Europe (23.1%). 84.6% of the respondents reported regular consumption of alcohol. The majority of respondents (97%) reported consuming vegetables and fruit at least on a weekly basis. 37% reported consuming fast food at least once a week. 76.9% of the subjects reported having been sexually active. Of the sexually active population; 82.4% reported always using contraception, with the condom and the pill being the more popular methods.
Conclusions: Medical students are in constant contact with health promotion and this should reflect in their own personal lifestyle choices. A very low percentage was observed to smoke on a regular basis, a high percentage carry out physical activity regularly and the majority include healthy food in their diet. The same population did however report a high percentage of alcohol and fast food consumption. The latter may be due to lifestyle choices made somewhat inevitable by their educational schedule, many of whom live away from home.