Food Insecurity and Diet Quality Among Undergraduate Students


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Objectives: Food insecurity is the state of not having consistent access to nutritious, nutrient dense foods and has been associated with poor nutrient intake among college students. This study examines the association between food insecurity and dietary quality in a sample of undergraduate students attending a northeastern university. Methods: Between 2018-21 undergraduate students were recruited, in line with IRB #5524, to participate in the ongoing cross-sectional College Health and Nutrition Assessment Survey. Students completed the USDA 6-item Short Form Food Security Survey Module as well as completed 3-day food records. Dietary intake was evaluated via online nutrient analysis software (Diet and Wellness Plus). A final sample (n=1233) was analyzed after all data were collected and screened for accuracy and completeness. Food insecurity data were dichotomized into food secure (FS, n=1030) and food insecure (FI, n=203). Mean differences of diet-related outcomes between food security categories were evaluated via ANCOVA, adjusting for housing, Pell grant use, and gender (M/F). Significance p<.05. Results: One out of six (16.5%) students reported being food insecure. FI students reported similar intakes compared to FS students of saturated fat (23.9±.7 vs. 23.5±.3 g, p=.63), discretionary calories (587.0±20.9 vs. 554.5 ±9.3 kcals, p=.16), fruit (1.0±.1 vs. 1.0±.03 cups, p=.53), and vegetables (1.7±.1 vs. 1.8 ±.04 cups, p<.28). Conclusions: Many university students report experiencing food insecurity. Further, both FI and FS students are not meeting RDAs and report poor dietary quality. While differences between groups were not observed, findings suggest a need for interventions to reduce the burden of disease associated with poor dietary intake. More research is needed to further investigate these associations and to grasp the longitudinal effects seen to one’s diet quality and overall well-being. Funding Sources: The NH Agricultural Experiment Station and USDA National Institute of Food and Agricultural Hatch Project 1010738


First Name Last Name
Jesse Morrell
Sonja Carlson

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Submission Details

Conference GRC
Event Graduate Research Conference
Department Nutritional Sciences (GRC)
Group Oral Presentation
Added May 4, 2022, 1:19 p.m.
Updated May 4, 2022, 1:20 p.m.
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