Social Determinants of Health and College Food Insecurity

Catherine Mobley, Ye Luo, Mariela Fernandez, Leslie Hossfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, many students have faced economic hardship and experienced food insecurity, even as universities strive to create more equitable pathways to college. There is a need for a more holistic perspective that addresses the complexity of food insecurity amongst college students. To this end, we examined the relationship between the social determinants of health, including college food insecurity (CoFI) and childhood food insecurity (ChFI), and their relationship with well-being measures. The study sample was a convenience sample that included 372 students at a public university who responded to an online survey in fall 2021. Students were asked to report their food security status in the previous 30 days. We used the following analytical strategies: chi-square tests to determine differences between food secure (FS) and food insecure (FI) students; binary logistic regression of CoFI on student demographics and ChFI; and ordinal or binary logistic regression for well-being measures. Black students, off-campus students, first-generation students, in-state students, and humanities/behavioral/social/health sciences majors were more likely to report CoFI. FI students were more likely to have experienced ChFI and to have lower scores on all well-being measures. ChFI was associated with four well-being measures and its effects were mediated by CoFI. College student health initiatives would benefit from accounting for SDOH, including ChFI experiences and its subsequent cumulative disadvantages experienced during college.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 4 2024


  • childhood food insecurity
  • stress
  • social determinants of health (SDOH)
  • health and well-being
  • college student food insecurity


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