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J Correct Health Care. 2009 Oct;15(4):318-27. doi: 10.1177/1078345809340426. Epub 2009 Jul 25.

Consequences of high incarceration rate and high obesity prevalence on the prison system.

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American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Washington, DC 20016, USA.


Incarceration and obesity rates have both increased in the United States. An implication is that there will be more obese inmates, which likely will raise the prevalence of obesity-related diseases, affecting the cost and performance of correctional health care. Other issues include increased costs of transport, restraint, and housing. There is surprisingly little published information on inmate obesity prevalence. The few published research studies suggest obesity prevalence in prisons reflects that of their region. Cardiovascular-related prisoner deaths appear to be associated with state-level obesity, though other risk factors are likely involved. Weight gain while incarcerated is common, and the prevalence of diabetes is increasing. The data suggest that preventive care is not a priority in prisons. Evidence from Japan suggests restricted diets and enforced activity can improve inmate health.

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