Modeling the Effects of Including Inmates on Disparities in U.S. National Obesity Prevalence

Brian Houle, University of Washington

Disparities between people of color and Whites exist for several health conditions. The forces driving these differentials are complex, involving individual, institutional, cultural, and social processes. For obesity, racial disparities are not well understood – studies find differences between White, Black, and Mexican American women but not for men. The process of incarceration may help explain the distribution of obesity among men. The U.S. prison system has grown almost four-fold within twenty years − disproportionately affecting indigent, young men of color. This study analyzes the effect of incarceration on male disparities in obesity. I summarize obesity prevalence within prisons and then the effect of including inmates on national obesity prevalence estimates. Preliminary results suggest differences in obesity prevalence within male inmate race/ethnic groups that may affect national obesity summaries. This study has implications for understanding the burden of obesity in prisons and the processes underlying its national distribution.

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Presented in Poster Session 1