Public Health Nutrition


Clustering of lifestyle factors in Spanish university students: the relationship between smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity and diet quality

Carlos Moreno-Gómeza1, Dora Romaguera-Boscha2, Pedro Tauler-Rieraa3, Miquel Bennasar-Venya1 c1, Jordi Pericas-Beltrana1, Sonia Martinez-Andreua1 and Antoni Aguilo-Ponsa1

a1 Department of Nursing and Physiotherapy, University of Balearic Islands, Ctra de Valldemossa, km 7.5, 07122 Palma, Spain

a2 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Imperial College London, UK

a3 Department of Fundamental Biology and Health Sciences, University of Balearic Islands, Palma, Spain


To ascertain the prevalence of and association between main lifestyle factors (diet, physical activity, alcohol consumption and smoking) in students from the Balearic Islands University.

A cross-sectional, descriptive study. A questionnaire including questions on lifestyle, dietary habits and physical activity habits was administered to the students. Four different diet quality scores were calculated (Diet Diversity Score, Mediterranean Diet Score, Dietary Guidelines Score and Global Dietary Guidelines Score).

A sample of students from the Balearic Islands University.

Nine hundred and eighty-seven students (45·5 % males; mean age 21·5 (sd 3·3) years).

The dietary pattern of the student population was characterized by a low consumption of cereals and tubers, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, legumes and nuts, and a high consumption of processed meat, sweets, snacks, soft drinks and pastries. Linear, positive and statistically significant correlations were found between the number of meals consumed daily and all of the diet quality scores determined. Determinants of diet quality, both in the univariate and multivariate analyses, were physical activity practice, sex, age and number of meals consumed daily.

Risk factors such as smoking, diet and physical inactivity had a tendency of clustering among Spanish university students. Overall diet quality was low, due to important departures from dietary recommendations and loss of the traditional Mediterranean dietary pattern. Nutritional education campaigns that include promotion of physical activity practice are needed to improve the overall health status of this population.

(Received May 31 2011)

(Accepted December 21 2011)

(Online publication February 07 2012)


  • Diet;
  • Physical activity;
  • Smoking;
  • Alcohol drinking;
  • University students


c1 Corresponding author: Email