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The effect of food insecurity during college on graduation and type of degree attained: evidence from a nationally representative longitudinal survey.

Wolfson JA, Insolera N, Cohen A, Leung CW. The effect of food insecurity during college on graduation and type of degree attained: evidence from a nationally representative longitudinal survey. Public Health Nutrition. 2022 Feb 1; 25(2):389-397.

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Abstract:

OBJECTIVE: To examine the effect of food insecurity during college on graduation and degree attainment. DESIGN: Secondary analysis of longitudinal panel data. We measured food insecurity concurrent with college enrolment using the 18-question United States Department of Agriculture Household Food Security Survey Module. Educational attainment was measured in 2015-2017 via two questions about college completion and highest degree attained. Logistic and multinomial logit models adjusted for socio-demographic characteristics were estimated. SETTING: USA. PARTICIPANTS: A nationally representative, balanced panel of 1574 college students in the USA in 1999-2003 with follow-up through 2015-2017 from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. RESULTS: In 1999-2003, 14·5 % of college students were food-insecure and were more likely to be older, non-White and first-generation students. In adjusted models, food insecurity was associated with lower odds of college graduation (OR 0·57, 95 % CI: 0·37, 0·88, P = 0·01) and lower likelihood of obtaining a bachelor''s degree (relative risk ratio (RRR) 0·57 95 % CI: 0·35, 0·92, P = 0·02) or graduate/professional degree (RRR 0·39, 95 % CI: 0·17, 0·86, P = 0·022). These associations were more pronounced among first-generation students. And 47·2 % of first-generation students who experienced food insecurity graduated from college; food-insecure first-generation students were less likely to graduate compared to first-generation students who were food-secure (47·2 % v. 59·3 %, P = 0·020) and non-first-generation students who were food-insecure (47·2 % v. 65·2 %, P = 0·037). CONCLUSIONS: Food insecurity during college is a barrier to graduation and higher-degree attainment, particularly for first-generation students. Existing policies and programmes that help mitigate food insecurity should be expanded and more accessible to the college student population.





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