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Neglected children with severe obesity have a right to health: Is foster home an alternative? : A qualitative study

Journal article
Authors S. Regber
Jovanna Dahlgren
S. Janson
Published in International Journal of Child Abuse & Neglect
Volume 83
Pages 106-119
ISSN 0145-2134
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Pediatrics
Pages 106-119
Language en
Keywords Case study research, Foster home, Rights of the child, Severe childhood obesity, Welfare
Subject categories Pediatrics


Objective To explore key person’s perspectives of foster home placement or notification of risk of harm to Social Services of children with severe obesity. Methods This case study research was performed in the southwest of Sweden and based on interviews with nine informants: a foster home youth, two foster parents, a social worker, two hospital social workers, a pediatric physician, a pediatric nurse, and a psychologist. Content analysis was used for narrative evaluations, within- and cross case analyses and displays. Results Positive health outcomes of the foster home placement were described as a healthy and normalized weight status, a physically and socially active life, and an optimistic outlook on the future. The foster parents made no major changes in their family routines, but applied an authoritative parenting style regarding limit setting about sweets and food portions and supporting physical activity. The professionals described children with severe obesity as having suffered parental as well as societal neglect. Their biological parents lacked the ability to undertake necessary lifestyle changes. Neglected investigations into learning disabilities and neuropsychiatric disorders were seen in the school and healthcare sector, and better collaboration with the Social Services after a report of harm might be a potential for future improvements. Rival discourses were underlying the (in) decision regarding foster home placement. Conclusion A child’s right to health was a strong discourse for acting when a child was at risk for harm, but parental rights are strong when relocation to a foster home is judged to be necessary.

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