The impact of incarceration on obesity: Are prisoners with chronic diseases becoming overweight and obese during their confinement?

Madison L. Gates, Robert K. Bradford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction. The association between incarceration and weight gain, along with the public health impact of former prisoners who are overweight or obese, warrants more investigation to understand the impact of prison life. Studies regarding incarceration's impact on obesity are too few to support assertions that prisons contribute to obesity and comorbid conditions. This study examined a statewide prison population over several years to determine weight gain. Methods. Objective data for weight, height, and chronic diseases, along with demographics, were extracted from an electronic health record. These data were analyzed statistically to determine changes over time and between groups. Results. As a total population, prisoners not only gained weight, but also reflected the distribution of BMIs for the state. There were differences within the population. Male prisoners gained significantly less weight than females. The population with chronic diseases gained less weight than the population without comorbid conditions. Prisoners with diabetes lost weight while hypertension's impact was negligible. Conclusion. This study found that weight gain was a problem specifically to females. However, this prison system appears to be providing effective chronic disease management, particularly for prisoners with diabetes and hypertension. Additional research is needed to understand the impact incarceration has on the female population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number532468
JournalJournal of Obesity
Volume2015
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

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