A recent research
conducted by Dr. Katherine Herbert et al of the Department of Public Health,
University of Oxford, UK, has revealed that globally male prisoners are
comparatively slimmer than males in the general world. However, female
prisoners are obese than their counterparts in the general population,
except in UK.
(NCD), like heart diseases, diabetes, stroke, respiratory disease and cancer,
are major medical conditions, which are non-transferable and non-infectious
among individuals. NCD account for 3 out of 5 deaths globally. The underprivileged social sectors such as prisoners are
vulnerable to these diseases.
research is the first systematic analysis of the
identifiable risk factors of non-communicable diseases, like poor and faulty
diet, inadequate exercises, sedentary lifestyle, alcohol consumption and
smoking, among the prisoners.
The experts have examined 31 studies that included 60,000
prisoners in about 884 institutions across 15 nations. They have discovered
that women prisoners were 18% more likely to be overweight as compared to the
general women population in the USA. Similar results were seen with Australian
The female prisoners
in Great Britain had less chance to be obese than non-imprisoned females, for
which the experts did not have an explanation.
Further they saw that
male prisoners were 13% to 67% less likely to be overweight than non-imprisoned
The data for physical
activity was available for Australia and England, and it revealed that in
contrast to Australian prisoners and the non-imprisoned general UK populations,
the prisoners in UK were less likely to get recommended physical activity
The prisoners in
Australia were involved in 150 minutes of moderate exercises every week. This
was far more than what the general population does.
The scientists mentioned,
"This difference cannot be attributed purely to a cultural difference;
something must be inherent in the structure of the prison environment that
enables Australian prisoners to exercise.
The analysis of
prisoner diet showed that while male diets in high-income countries provide an
appropriate calorie intake, female diets provided a substantial excess of total
energy. The evidence suggests that female prisoners are simply supplied with a
diet designed for males."
The experts concluded
that, "Studies in Australia and Japan describe how the prison regime can
favorably influence NCD risk factors, thus showing that improvement of prison
regimes and environments in such a way that favors health promotion and reduces
modifiable risk factors is possible. The challenge remains to ensure that every
prison provides a healthy diet and ample opportunities for physical
In a joint comment, Dr
Frank W. Arnold, the Director of research, Oxford Wound Healing Unit, Medical
rapporteur for Freedom from Torture and Helen Bamber Foundation, and
co-founder, Medical Justice Network stated,
where the frequency and duration of incarceration are rising, the incidence and
consequences of non-communicable diseases will inevitably increase in parallel
with an aging population in jail. An increase in the incidence of
non-communicable diseases will magnify problems associated with management of
disorders such as diabetes and epilepsy, and prisoners could be accused
(rightly or wrongly) of manipulating their treatment for nefarious ends,
potentially resulting in dangerous neglect.
Ultimately, the most
important potentially modifiable factor in prisoners' environment is
imprisonment itself. Since much international variation exists in the rates at
which people are incarcerated and the reasons why this happens, there seems to
be substantial scope for beneficial reform. But such reform is a political
question, not a medical one."
Further researches and
extensive monitoring are needed to make effective interventions in the
vulnerable, prison population.
Prevalence of risk factors for non-communicable
diseases in prison populations worldwide: a systematic review; Dr.Katharine et
al; The Lancet Online Publication 2012