PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to evaluate effects of a health education program based on social cognitive theory on university students with risk factors for metabolic syndrome. METHODS: A nonequivalent control group pretest-posttest design was used. Participants were 88 students who had at least 2 risk factors for Metabolic Syndrome (47 students for the experimental and 41 for the control group). The health education program consisted of thirteen sessions. Knowledge regarding smoking and alcohol drinking, self-efficacy and self-esteem were evaluated. t-test, chi2-test, Fisher's exact test, and paired t-test were conducted to analyze the data. SPSS/WIN 19.0 Statistics program was used. RESULTS: There was a statistically significant increase in self-efficacy in the experimental group compared to the control group. No significant changes in knowledge and self-esteem were found. CONCLUSION: The results suggest that the health education program for university students was partially effective. Further work is required to develop more effective health education programs.