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The Long-Term Effect of Food Insecurity During College on Future Food Insecurity.

Leung CW, Insolera N, Cohen AJ, Wolfson JA. The Long-Term Effect of Food Insecurity During College on Future Food Insecurity. American journal of preventive medicine. 2021 Dec 1; 61(6):923-926.

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INTRODUCTION: Food insecurity has been associated with adverse health and academic outcomes among college students. However, little is known about the long-term impacts of experiencing food insecurity during college. This study examines the impacts of college food insecurity (measured from 1999 to 2003) on future food insecurity (measured from 2015 to 2017) and whether this association differs by economic independence during college. METHODS: Data came from 1,508 participants in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the longest-running and nationally representative panel survey. Household food security was assessed using the 18-item U.S. Household Food Security Survey Module during college enrollment in 1999-2003 and again during adulthood in 2015-2017. Generalized linear models were used to examine the impacts of college food insecurity on food insecurity in adulthood, adjusting for individual- and family-level sociodemographic characteristics. Data analysis was conducted in 2020-2021. RESULTS: After multivariable adjustment, college food insecurity was associated with an increased prevalence of food insecurity in adulthood (prevalence ratio = 1.45, 95% CI = 1.16, 1.81). This association was more pronounced among students who were economically independent from their parents during college (prevalence ratio = 2.23, 95% CI = 1.27, 3.90). CONCLUSIONS: Food insecurity during college is associated with a higher prevalence of food insecurity in early to middle adulthood, particularly among economically independent students. Given the seemingly cyclical nature of food insecurity over the life course, policies are needed to alleviate food insecurity during the critical college years.

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