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.
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.
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.
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.
Consortium national de formation en santé (CNFS).
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
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