Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 17, Issue 9, pp 1673–1679 | Cite as

Demographic and Placement Variables Associated with Overweight and Obesity in Children in Long-Term Foster Care

  • Janet U. SchneidermanEmail author
  • Janet S. Arnold-Clark
  • Caitlin Smith
  • Lei Duan
  • Jorge Fuentes


Overweight and obesity is a growing problem for children in foster care. This study describes the prevalence of overweight and obesity in an urban, ethnic minority population of children ages 2–19 in long-term foster care (N = 312) in Los Angeles, California. It also investigates whether demographics or placement settings are related to high body mass index. The estimates of prevalence of overweight/obesity (≥85th percentile) and obesity (≥95th percentile) were presented for gender, age, ethnicity, and placement type. Multiple logistic regression was used to examine potential associations between demographic and placement variables and weight status. The prevalence of overweight/obesity was almost 40 % and obesity was 23 % for the study population. Children placed in a group home had the highest prevalence of overweight/obesity (60 %) and obesity (43 %) compared to other types of placement. Within this study, older children (ages 12–19) were more likely to be overweight/obese than normal weight compared to children between 2 and 5 years old when controlling for gender, ethnicity and placement (OR = 2.10, CI = 1.14–3.87). These findings suggest that older age and long-term foster care in general may be risk factors for obesity. Child welfare agencies and health care providers need to work together to train caregivers with children in long-term foster care in obesity treatment interventions and obesity prevention strategies.


Childhood obesity Overweight Long-term foster care Group home 



The authors want to acknowledge two grants that supported this research: National Institute of Health: The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development K01-HD05798 and the University of Southern California School of Social Work, Larson Innovative Research Award. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of National Institutes of Health or the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. The authors also want to thank Eric Lindberg for editorial assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janet U. Schneiderman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Janet S. Arnold-Clark
    • 2
  • Caitlin Smith
    • 3
  • Lei Duan
    • 1
  • Jorge Fuentes
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Social WorkUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Keck School of MedicineUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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