College students undergo stressors (e.g., potential financial strain, changes in workload or location), which may precipitate metabolic syndrome (MetS) risk associated with obesity and high blood pressure. Concerning rises in young adult obesity and type 2 diabetes, prompt study into MetS risk factor prevalence and awareness in youthful populations transitioning to new environments, such as college. This study assessed perceived stress, coping resources, and disease awareness differences in the first time on campus and final-year students associated with MetS risk factors (elevated body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure). We hypothesized lower stress perception, lower weight gain and blood pressure, higher MetS knowledge, and more positive coping strategies in final-year students. We conducted a longitudinal cohort study of 43 undergraduates with a baseline assessment in September (T0) and a follow-up in December (T1). BMI and blood pressure were measured at each visit and compared to baseline predictors of MetS knowledge, perceived stress, and coping resources. Though trends in MetS knowledge, perceived stress, and coping scores followed those in our hypothesis, only differences in weight and BMI change were statistically significant. The mixed-effects regression analysis did not find any statistically significant trends. First-time on-campus students gained an average of 1.736 kg, and their average BMI increased by 0.485 kg/m2. Conversely, final year students lost 0.313 kg, and their average BMI decreased by 0.210 kg/m2. Information on blood pressure was inconclusive. The average increase in weight/BMI in first-time on-campus students compared to final-year students highlights the need to provide education and resources to protect against metabolic syndrome risk in young adults. Trends in final year student clinical outcomes and their predictors illustrate how education may be a protective factor against MetS risk.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Brazendale, Keith


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Health Professions and Sciences


Health Sciences

Degree Program

Health Sciences, Pre-Clinical Track



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date