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Food insecurity among university students in Victoria: A pilot study

Micevski, Dee A., Thornton, Lukar E., Brockington, Sonia
Nutrition & dietetics 2014 v.71 no.4 pp. 258-264
college students, demographic statistics, family studies, food security, hunger, income, parents, questionnaires, regression analysis, surveys
AIMS: Susceptibility to food insecurity can vary over a life course; however, a potential period of particular vulnerability is while studying at a tertiary institution. This pilot study aimed to assess the prevalence, severity and potential determinants of food insecurity among tertiary students attending a Victorian‐based institution. METHODS: The present study employed a cross‐sectional design, involving use of a self‐reported questionnaire. The survey, conducted in 2012, was administered to a sample of 124 Deakin University students and contains measures of food insecurity status, demographics and other potential explanatory factors. Descriptive and regression analysis was undertaken to investigate the prevalence of food insecurity and associations with factors that may support or hinder a student's ability to procure food, such as living arrangements, income and knowledge of support services. RESULTS: Food insecurity without hunger was reported by 18% of Deakin University students, while an additional 30% reported experiencing the more severe form of food insecurity (with hunger). A lower odds of being food insecure was reported among students living with their family (without hunger OR 0.35; 95% CI 0.12–0.99; with hunger OR 0.29; 95% CI 0.12–0.70), while a higher odds was found among those receiving government support (with hunger OR 2.52; 95% CI 1.05–6.04). CONCLUSIONS: The reported prevalence of food insecurity among the tertiary student sample was greater than the general Australian population, suggesting they are a vulnerable group. This may be attributable to financial pressures faced when students are not living with their parents.