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To assess the relationship between food insecurity, sleep quality, and days with mental and physical health issues among college students.
An online survey was administered. Food insecurity was assessed using the ten-item Adult Food Security Survey Module. Sleep was measured using the nineteen-item Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). Mental health and physical health were measured using three items from the Healthy Days Core Module. Multivariate logistic regression was conducted to assess the relationship between food insecurity, sleep quality, and days with poor mental and physical health.
Twenty-two higher education institutions.
College students (n 17 686) enrolled at one of twenty-two participating universities.
Compared with food-secure students, those classified as food insecure (43·4 %) had higher PSQI scores indicating poorer sleep quality (P < 0·0001) and reported more days with poor mental (P < 0·0001) and physical (P < 0·0001) health as well as days when mental and physical health prevented them from completing daily activities (P < 0·0001). Food-insecure students had higher adjusted odds of having poor sleep quality (adjusted OR (AOR): 1·13; 95 % CI 1·12, 1·14), days with poor physical health (AOR: 1·01; 95 % CI 1·01, 1·02), days with poor mental health (AOR: 1·03; 95 % CI 1·02, 1·03) and days when poor mental or physical health prevented them from completing daily activities (AOR: 1·03; 95 % CI 1·02, 1·04).
College students report high food insecurity which is associated with poor mental and physical health, and sleep quality. Multi-level policy changes and campus wellness programmes are needed to prevent food insecurity and improve student health-related outcomes.
Social relationships can impact youths’ eating and physical activity behaviours; however, the best strategies for intervening in the social environment are unknown. The objectives of the present study were to provide in-depth information on the social roles that youths’ parents and friends play related to eating and physical activity behaviours and to explore the impact of other social relationships on youths’ eating and physical activity behaviours.
Convergent parallel mixed-methods design.
Low-income, African American, food desert neighbourhoods in Baltimore City, MD, USA.
Data were collected from 297 youths (53 % female, 91 % African American, mean age 12·3 (sd 1·5) years) using structured questionnaires and combined with in-depth interviews from thirty-eight youths (42 % female, 97 % African American, mean age 11·4 (sd 1·5) years) and ten parents (80 % female, 50 % single heads of house, 100 % African American).
Combined interpretation of the results found that parents and caregivers have multiple, dynamic roles influencing youths’ eating and physical activity behaviours, such as creating health-promoting rules, managing the home food environment and serving as a role model for physical activity. Other social relationships have specific, but limited roles. For example, friends served as partners for physical activity, aunts provided exposure to novel food experiences, and teachers and doctors provided information related to eating and physical activity.
Obesity prevention programmes should consider minority youths’ perceptions of social roles when designing interventions. Specifically, future research is needed to test the effectiveness of intervention strategies that enhance or expand the supportive roles played by social relationships.
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