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Weight gain and chronic disease progression among individuals incarcerated in Canadian federal penitentiaries: a retrospective cohort study

Claire Johnson (School of Advanced Public Studies, Université de Moncton, Moncton, Canada)
Iva Bien-Aimé (School of Advanced Public Studies, Université de Moncton, Moncton, Canada)
Lise Dubois (School of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada)

International Journal of Prisoner Health

ISSN: 1744-9200

Article publication date: 6 November 2020

Issue publication date: 28 May 2021

72

Abstract

Purpose

Very little is known about how weight gain during incarceration influences the health of people living in Canadian federal penitentiaries. To fill this knowledge gap, this study aims to determine how the observed weight gain influenced the development of obesity-related chronic diseases during incarceration.

Design/methodology/approach

This retrospective cohort study examined the association between weight gain and obesity-related chronic diseases for 1,420 participants incarcerated in federal penitentiaries in Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. To participate, individuals had to be incarcerated for at least six months at the time of the study (2016–2017). Current anthropometric data were measured or taken from medical records, then compared to anthropometric data at the beginning of incarceration (mean follow-up of 5.0 years) to determine weight change (kg) and body mass index change (kg/m2) during incarceration. Then, information about obesity-related chronic diseases was drawn from the participants’ medical records.

Findings

Chi-square and nonparametric median comparison tests were performed to detect statistically significant changes in anthropometric data, to determine if a relationship was present. This study observed a significant association between weight gain and disease development for many types of obesity-related chronic diseases (e.g. cancer, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia and sleep apnea). This confirmed an association between weight gain and chronic disease development in the prison population.

Originality/value

Participants who gained a significant amount of weight, during incarceration, were also more frequently diagnosed with obesity-related chronic diseases. These findings suggest that weight gain may contribute to the deterioration of peoples’ health during incarceration.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Consortium national de formation en santé (CNFS).

Citation

Johnson, C., Bien-Aimé, I. and Dubois, L. (2021), "Weight gain and chronic disease progression among individuals incarcerated in Canadian federal penitentiaries: a retrospective cohort study", International Journal of Prisoner Health, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 128-141. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPH-05-2020-0031

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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