Research Brief| Volume 51, ISSUE 9, P1107-1112, October 2019

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Socioeconomic Status and Diet Quality in College Students



      To investigate the existence and trajectory of diet disparities among college students from different socioeconomic statuses (SESs).


      A random sample of freshman and sophomore students was invited to participate in an online survey on eating behaviors. Ordinary least squares regressions were fit to 148 complete responses to examine the association between family income ≤200% of the federal poverty level and overall, healthy, and unhealthy food consumption.


      Low-SES students reported eating significantly more unhealthy food during their freshman year than their non–low-SES peers. This difference is not statistically significant for second-year students and robust to on-campus spending power.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Disparities in diets for students from different socioeconomic backgrounds that were observed in the freshman year of college were absent in the sophomore year. Awareness of these disparities and trend is important to broadly promote healthy eating.

      Key Words

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