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Are Prisons Making Inmates Obese?  

Author:  Margaret R. Moreland, J.D., M.L.S.

Source: Volume 19, Number 04, May/June 2018 , pp.71-72(2)

Correctional Health Care Report

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Obesity is more prevalent among the poor and socially marginalized, which is where much of the prison population comes from, too. While prisoners are more likely to be overweight when they enter a facility, the authors of a recent study, “Weight Gain During Incarceration: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” published in the journal Obesity Reviews, attempted to determine whether the typical prison diet, and lack of opportunity for exercise, compound the problem. The study, by Mekdes K. Gebremariam, Roch A. Nianogo, and Onyebuchi A. Arah, found that of 11 studies recording actual weight changes among inmates, only one showed a decrease in weight among prisoners—this at a facility that imposed daily calorie limits, required regular work details, and mandated periods of exercise. In every other case, prisoners gained weight during their incarceration. Our reviewer Margaret Moreland summarizes the report’s findings—including recommendations for diet and exercise to head off the well-known consequences of obesity, which include greater risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, and osteoarthritis.

Keywords: Obesity; diet and exercise

Affiliations:  1: Pace University Law School.

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