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Minerva Pediatrica 2020 December;72(6):508-13

DOI: 10.23736/S0026-4946.16.04802-7


lingua: Inglese

Food security and nutritional status of children in foster care: new horizons in the protection of a fragile population

Pietro FERRARA1, 2 , Marta SCANCARELLO 3, Yeganeh M. KHAZRAI 4, Lorenza ROMANI 2, Costanza CUTRONA 2, Laura DE GARA 3, Gianni BONA 5

1 Institute of Pediatrics, Sacred Heart Catholic University, Rome, Italy; 2 Service of Pediatrics, Bio-Medic University Campus, Rome, Italy; 3 Unit of Food Sciences and Human Nutrition, Bio-Medic University Campus, Rome, Italy; 4 Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Bio-Medic University Campus, Rome, Italy; 5 Department of Health’s Sciences, University of Eastern Piedmont, Novara, Italy

BACKGROUND: The nutritional status of foster children, the quality of daily menus in group homes and the food security inside these organizations have been poorly studied. For this reason, the aim of this study was to investigate them.
METHODS: A sample of 125 children, ranging in age from 0-17 years, among seven group homes (group A) was compared with 121 children of the general population (group B). To evaluate nutritional status, BMI percentiles were used. Mean percentiles of both groups were compared through statistical analysis. Both nutritional and caloric daily distributions in each organization were obtained using the 24-hour recall method. A specific questionnaire was administered to evaluate food security.
RESULTS: From the analysis of mean BMI-for-age (or height-for-length) percentiles, we did not observe statistically significant differences between group A and group B. The average daily nutrient and calorie distribution in group homes proves to be nearly optimal except for a slight excess in proteins and a slight deficiency in polyunsaturated fatty acids. Moreover, a low intake of iron and calcium was revealed. All organizations obtained a High Food Security profile.
CONCLUSIONS: Nutritional conditions of foster children are no worse than that of children of the general population. Foster care provides the necessary conditions to support their growth.

KEY WORDS: Foster home care; Food supply; Nutritional status; Child

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