Journal of Food Security
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Journal of Food Security. 2016, 4(3), 52-57
DOI: 10.12691/jfs-4-3-1
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Food Purchasing Behaviors and Food Insecurity among College Students at The University of Texas at San Antonio

Lesli Biediger-Friedman1, , Bonnie Sanchez2, Meizi He2, Jianmin Guan2 and Zenong Yin2

1School of Family and Consumer Sciences, Texas State University, 601 University Dr., San Marcos, TX 78666, USA

2Department of Health and Kinesiology, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, USA

Pub. Date: June 21, 2016

Cite this paper:
Lesli Biediger-Friedman, Bonnie Sanchez, Meizi He, Jianmin Guan and Zenong Yin. Food Purchasing Behaviors and Food Insecurity among College Students at The University of Texas at San Antonio. Journal of Food Security. 2016; 4(3):52-57. doi: 10.12691/jfs-4-3-1


A decline in diet quality observed in college students can be attributed to consuming less than the recommended amounts of primary food groups (dairy, fruit, vegetables, and grains) and higher intakes of sweetened beverages. The investigation of food purchasing behaviors may help explain the potential influences, like food security and access to healthy food that may be causing the shift in dietary patterns. This study used receipt analysis and assessed food security in a cross-sectional sample of 258 undergraduate and graduate students. Food security questionnaires and seven-day food and beverage receipt logs were analyzed. Over half of the sampled population were between 21-25 years of age, of which a majority were undergraduates and lived off campus. Results showed that almost a third of the students were classified as having either very low (11.6%) or low (19.4%) food security. The largest amount of money was spent on grocery store purchases. The highest frequency of purchases occurred at fast-food venues and included a sugar-sweetened beverage and fried food. Gender differences were found in fast-food purchases, with males spending an average of $19.27 and females spending an average of $18.29 per week. However, no significant gender differences in the frequency of purchases made at grocery stores, convenience stores, fast-food restaurants, sit-down restaurants or campus dining venues. Moreover, students living in off-campus apartments purchased significantly more fruits and vegetables than students living with parents. The study findings indicate that purchasing patterns persist across levels of food security and for all levels are compounded by less than optimal purchasing of fruit and vegetables.

food security college student health food purchasing

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