A study conducted at Penn State University found that college students who communicate with their parents exercise more and eat more fruits and vegetables. The study was done with 746 full-time freshmen.

According to the research team, "when students communicated with their parents for 30 minutes or more, they were 14 percent more likely to consume fruits and vegetables and 50 percent more likely to engage in 30 minutes or more of physical activity."

"Encouraging parents to communicate with their college-aged children could improve these students' daily eating and physical activity behaviors and should be explored as a relatively easy and affordable component of a student preventive intervention," said Meg Small, the research associate conducting the study at the Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development.

The reason as to why students who spoke with their parents performed better habits is unclear. "The researchers did not document the content of the conversations between students and their parents; therefore, they do not know why the conversations had such positive effects on students' behaviors," Small said. "Our study shows that on days when students communicate more with their parents, they eat better and exercise more. We can't establish that their parents caused the health behavior, but our design allows us to show that the association is stronger than a simple correlation. A next step in research would be to establish the mechanism (e.g. parents giving health information or motivational messages)."

Other health risks such as drugs, alcohol, and sexually transmitted diseases have been a known problem among campuses across the United States. However, more universities and colleges are starting to implement healthy eating and work out incentives as a way to increase health awareness for their students.

The American College Health Association, in collaboration with Healthy Campus 2020, has been making strides in trying to get more campuses to be healthier and more active. Their 2020 plan aims to collect research and data from universities all around the United States in hopes of improving the health and well-being of their students.

Their plan's goals include to "identify current and ongoing nationwide health improvement priorities in higher education; Increase campus community awareness and understanding of determinants of health, disease, and disability and the opportunities for progress; Identify and promote relevant assessment, research, and data collection needs."

The physical state and activity of many first-year college students weigh heavily upon their mental well-being. On average, 33 percent of college students have reported being so depressed that they could not function. This leads to not only a decline in their academics, but also reduced chances of eating healthy and exercising regularly.

Physical activity also varies through different ethnic backgrounds. The Ohio State University performed research that showed that physical activity was lower in minorities. "According to self-report responses, 46.7% of the sample did not engage in vigorous physical activity and 16.7% were physically inactive," wrote the authors.

The study also found that Asian women has the highest rate of physical inactivity at 28 percent, with African women at 23.5 percent, White women at 17.4 percent, and Hispanic women at 20.3 percent. For men, the highest rates of inactivity were seen in Hispanic men at 13.8 percent.