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

Minerva Pediatr. 2020 Dec;72(6):508-513. doi: 10.23736/S0026-4946.16.04802-7. Epub 2016 Oct 12.


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 and this study means 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 we (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, 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 with the exception of a slight excess in proteins and a slight deficiency in PUFAs. 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.