If You’re a College Student, There’s a Good Chance You Can’t Eat Healthy

Most of us assume that the classic “Freshman 15″ comes from an overabundance of food. Too much snacking and not enough physical activity as first year college students make the transition into the routine of higher education. But maybe the feared Freshman 15 isn’t just related to the amount of food college students have access to, it’s the kind of food that they have access to. Or, more rightly put, what they don’t have access to.

A new study shows that actually, 60% of college students are food insecure, meaning that they have limited or uncertain access to nutritious foods. The study was a small one, performed at an university in Oregon, but it adds to the very important overall discussion of food insecurity.

To put the study’s number in perspective, in the United States overall, 14.5% of American households were food insecure in 2012. In comparison, the high rate of food insecurity in college students is alarming, especially given that during the taxing time of studying, nutritious food is a core part of maintaining students’ physical and mental health.

For the students in the study, food also had an overall affect on their scholarly performance, with students that were food insecure more likely to have a GPA of 3.1 or less than their peers who had proper access to nutritious food.

“Based on other research that’s been done, we expected some amount of food concerns among college students,” said Daniel López-Cevallos, associate director of research at OSU’s Center for Latino/a Studies and Engagement on the Oregon State University website. “But it was shocking to find food insecurity of this severity. Several recent trends may be combining to cause this.”

Those factors include rising rising college costs, more low-income and first-generation students attending college and changing demographics.

While the study is small, it highlights the importance of more research to be done on the topic, because if we continue to put an importance on higher education, than we need to ensure that programs are put into place so that students can eat real, nutritious food.

The ‘Freshman 15′ isn’t just a problem of appearance after all, it’s a problem of health and performance, and one that we need to think seriously about addressing by making sure that all college students have access to real food.

Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon

93 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 months ago

thanks for the article.

Oleg Kobetz
Oleg Kobetz2 years ago

Thank you.

Rhonda Bird
Rhonda B2 years ago

ty

Michael A.
Michael A2 years ago

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Michael A.
Michael A2 years ago

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Jessica Grieshaber

thanks for posting

Franck R.
Frank R2 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Kirsten P.
Kirsten P2 years ago

I agree with the comments that likely a lot of this is alcohol related. I know how much my lifestyle changed at that age - you are now newly responsible for all of your own decisions, including what you eat and how much you drink. It is easy to go overboard and watch the pounds creep up accordingly. The study that they reference is interesting, but as noted is a small one and more research needs to be done for sure.

John S.
Past Member 2 years ago

I think that anyone more interested in alcohol does not eat well. I worked full time at 2 jobs and received 2 bachelor degrees, an option and a certificate, while managing to eat healthy foods.

Wendy J.
Wendy J2 years ago

Healthy eating habits start early. Thank you for sharing.