Date of Publication


Degree Type

Honors Thesis


Health Science

First Advisor

Lynne Gardner, MPH, Lecturer


Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in America today despite being an entirely preventable disease. This is largely due to the Western diet and lifestyle that has spread to wealthy nations across the world. Many of the behavioral factors that lead to cardiovascular disease begin early in life and accumulate over time, and although it is possible to change these habits many people do not consider doing so until it is too late. If public health officials could successfully educate the public on how to improve their habits, that alone would directly prevent certain non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease as well as indirectly improve healthcare costs, the economy, and poverty. Since college students in particular are notorious for their poor diets, physical inactivity, and lack of sleep and stress management, this literature review will investigate the discrepancy between college students’ perceived risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the future, versus their actual risk based upon the behavioral risk factors they engage in today, and the effects of select demographics. The findings will be critically examined and any gaps in knowledge will be discussed along with potential solutions based on public health educational models and past areas of success.