Food insecurity at college

Date: Nov 03 2015

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1 in 3 college freshmen is food insecure

Chicago — One in 3 college freshman experiences food insecurity – or lack of consistent access to adequate foods – according to new research released today at the American Public Health Association’s 143rd Annual Meeting in Chicago.

From 2014-2015, researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Minnesota administered cross-sectional surveys to college freshmen living in dormitories at a large, diverse public university in the southwest United States to assess the association between food insecurity, mental health, personal eating behaviors and perceptions of the campus eating environment. Their study found that 34 percent of the students reported food insecurity over a 30-day period, and 35 percent reported food insecurity over a 90-day period.

“This number is over two times the national rate of food insecurity among adults, and over 10 percent higher among households with children,” said study author Meg Bruening, PhD, MPH, RD, of Arizona State University’s School of Nutrition and Health Promotion. “Food insecurity is a persistent public health concern; however, few studies have examined the factors related to food insecurity among college students, particularly college freshmen living in dormitories.”

The study also showed that food insecure students were less likely to eat breakfast and home-cooked meals, and more likely to eat fast food and experience anxiety and depression.

“Compared to food secure students, food insecure college freshmen had poorer eating patterns and were at greater risk for mental health issues,” Bruening said. “Interventions are needed to support these youth as they transition into college, so that they can maintain healthy eating patterns to support their learning and success in college.”

The SPARC study – Social impact of Physical Activity and nutrition in College – was supported by an Early Investigator Award (DP5OD017910; PI: M. Bruening) from the National Institutes of Health’s Office of the Director and Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

APHA’s 143rd Annual Meeting is themed “Health in All Policies” and will focus on how public health agencies and organizations can work with those who are best positioned to create policies and practices that promote healthy communities and environments.

4228.0: Understanding Contexts Surrounding Food Insecurity and Nutrition Disparities

Date: Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Researchers: Stephanie Nelson, DTR, Arizona State University, School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Phoenix, Arizona

Meg Bruening, PhD, MPH, RD, Arizona State University, School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Phoenix, Arizona

Melissa N. Laska, PhD, MPH, RD, University of Minnesota, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Information for media: The APHA Annual Meeting Press Office will be located in W475B of the McCormick Place convention center.

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