Factors Related to the High Rates of Food Insecurity among Diverse, Urban College Freshmen

Meg Bruening, Stephanie Brennhofer, Irene van Woerden, Michael Todd, Melissa Laska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


Background 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. Objective Our aim was to examine the prevalence of food insecurity and associations with health outcomes among college freshmen. Design A diverse sample of freshmen (n=209) attending a large southwestern university and living in campus residence halls completed online surveys. Anthropometrics were measured by trained staff. Statistical analyses Using mixed logistic regression, associations were examined between food insecurity and health outcomes, adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics and clustering of students within residence halls. Results Food insecurity was prevalent, with 32% reporting inconsistent access to food in the past month and 37% in the past 3 months. Food-insecure freshmen had higher odds of depression (odds ratio=2.97; 95% CI 1.58 to 5.60) compared to food-secure students. Food-insecure freshmen had significantly lower odds of eating breakfast, consuming home-cooked meals, perceiving their off-campus eating habits to be healthy, and receiving food from parents (P<0.05). Conclusions Interventions are needed to support students struggling with food insecurity, as it is related to health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1450-1457
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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