The majority of studies on food insecurity among US college students show higher prevalence rates than the general population. Past studies have looked at characteristics associated with food security status among US college students, but have not focused specifically on international students.
To estimate the prevalence of and identify characteristics associated with food insecurity among international students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
This cross-sectional study used data from 263 international students attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who completed an online survey in October and November of 2016.
Food security status was assessed using the 10-item US Adult Food Security Survey Module and students were categorized as having high food security, marginal food security, or food insecurity. Self-reported demographics and other student characteristics were also assessed. Descriptive statistics were calculated. Monte Carlo Estimates for the Exact Test and ANOVA were used to assess statistical significance for the association between food security status and student characteristics. Statistical significance was considered P < .05.
Among students in the sample, 51% reported high food security, 24% marginal food security, and 25% food insecurity. Characteristics significantly associated with food security status were gender, year in school, having a car, and perceived health rating. Age, years in the US, academic performance, marital status, having dependent children, living on vs off-campus, employment status, receiving financial aid, weight status, cooking frequency, perceived cooking skills, and having a meal plan were not significantly associated with food security status.
Lack of food security is a serious issue among international students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with nearly half reporting food insecurity or marginal food security. The characteristics identified in this study as being associated with food security status can help to inform future research and interventions for addressing food security status among international students.