Aarohi Shah

Session 3
Board Number

Health Behaviors of First-Generation College Students: Findings from the EAT 2010-2018 Study

First-generation college students face distinctive challenges that may magnify the impacts of their first-generation status on behavioral health outcomes. Poor sleep health is documented among college student populations; however, there is minimal research that examines the structural barriers that affect the sleep of first-generation college students as a population. The association between sleep and health outcomes, especially during this stage of adulthood, strongly suggests the importance of increased research and understanding. Furthermore, first-generation college students are a widely understudied population.  

This study examines various health markers (i.e. sleep, physical activity, eating habits) and structural variables (i.e. financial difficulty, food insecurity, working status) by generational status of college students. First-generation college students are defined as students not in high school whose parents did not attend college. Data is derived from the EAT-2018 (Eating and Activity over Time) study in 2017-2018. The sample n is 411 and the mean age is 21.3 (SD=1.9). This analysis looks at unadjusted and adjusted models and the extent of sleep deprivation among groups of students. Analyses include first-generation and non-first-generation college students at 2-year and 4-year institutions. There are minimal quantitative differences in markers measured which suggests that there is a need for more in-depth qualitative research due to the invisible barriers first-generation college students face in comparison to their non-first-generation peers. Understanding the sleep health of first-generation college students will provide insight into what factors are most prominently affecting their behavioral health outcomes. This will help inform the design of future interventions and how they are tailored to various groups of students.