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