• Food security among first-year international students studying at the University of Chester (UoC) and the relevance of dietary acculturation as a determining factor

      Kennedy, Lynne; Abe, Opeyemi (University of Chester, 2016-09)
      Food security is an important nutrition issue among vulnerable population groups such as; international university students. When physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets dietary needs and food preferences for a healthy life is limited or uncertain, food insecurity exists. This study aimed to investigate the extent of food security among first-year international students at the University of Chester (UoC) and to assess factors affecting their ability to obtain their preferred traditional foods. Method: A cross-sectional survey of 124 first-year international students at the UoC, using self-reported validated questionnaires. Food security was measured using the Australian National Nutrition Survey (single item measure) and US Adult Food Security Survey Module from the United States Department of Agriculture Community Food Security Assessment Tool Kit (10-item measure). Socio-economic and demographic variables, and food access and availability questions were also included. Results: Food insecurity was evident in the student sample. The prevalence of food insecurity using the single item and multi-item measures were 21.8% (n=25) and 79.8% (n=99) (54.8% reported severe food insecurity and 25% reported some degree of food insecurity) respectively. Students’ food insecurity was associated with cost and quality of food, location and transport to food stores, low income, no employment, no scholarships and renting. Conclusion: Food insecurity is a significant problem among international students at the UoC. There is a need to increase the accessibility, availability and affordability of international students’ preferred traditional foods. It is necessary to broaden research on different university settings and further strengthen support systems to increase access to nutritious, preferred traditional foods for this population.