Emerging adults' intersecting experiences of food insecurity, unsafe neighbourhoods and discrimination during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak

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29 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine how food insecurity is related to emerging adults' food behaviours and experiences of neighbourhood safety and discrimination and to identify resources needed to support their health during the COVID-19 outbreak. Design: Rapid response online survey. Participants completed the six-item US Household Food Security Survey Module, a brief measure of food insufficiency, and measures of food behaviours, neighbourhood safety and discrimination. Open-ended questions were used to assess changes in eating behaviours during COVID-19 and needed resources. Setting: C-EAT (COVID-19 Eating and Activity over Time) study invitations were sent by email and text message to a longitudinal cohort. Participants: A total of 218 emerging adults (mean age = 24·6 (sd 2·0) years, 70·2 % female) completed a survey in April-May 2020 during a stay-at-home order in Minnesota. Results: The past year prevalence of food insecurity was 28·4 %. Among food-insecure respondents, 41·0 % reported both eating less and experiencing hunger due to lack of money in the past month. Food-insecure respondents were less likely than those who were food secure to have fruits/vegetables at home and more likely to have frequent fast-food restaurant meals, feel unsafe in their neighbourhood and experience discrimination during the stay-at-home order. Food-insecure adults reported changes including eating more food prepared at home, eating more take-out restaurant meals and purchasing more energy-dense snacks as a result of events related to COVID-19. Resources most needed to support their health included eligibility for more food assistance and relief funds. Conclusions: Food-insecure emerging adults experience many barriers to maintaining healthful eating patterns during COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)519-530
Number of pages12
JournalPublic health nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 23 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements: None. Financial support: This work was supported by grant number R35HL139853 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (PI: Neumark-Sztainer). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute or the National Institutes of Health. Conflict of interest: None. Authorship: N.L. coordinated data collection, conducted the analyses and drafted the manuscript. J.S.-A., J.B. and L.H. helped to conceptualise the analysis plan. T.A. conducted a review of the content analysis. D.N.-S. conceptualised the larger EAT study design and oversaw data collection. All authors contributed to the interpretation of results and manuscript revisions. Ethics of human subject participation: This study was conducted according to the guidelines laid down in the Declaration of Helsinki, and all procedures involving human subjects were approved by the University of Minnesota’s Institutional Review Board Human Subjects Committee. Informed consent was provided by all human subjects.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Nutrition Society.


  • Discrimination
  • Emerging adult
  • Food insecurity
  • Home food availability
  • Neighbourhood safety


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