The Effect of Incarceration on Adult BMI Trajectories, United States, 1981-2006

Brian Houle, University of Colorado at Boulder

The prevalence of obesity and overweight is socially patterned, with higher prevalence among women, racial/ethnic minorities, and those with lower socio-economic status. Contextual factors also affect obesity risk. However, an omitted factor has been incarceration, particularly since it disproportionately affects minorities. This study examines the effects of incarceration on body mass index (BMI) trajectories of adults ages 18-49. BMI was based on self-reported height and weight collected in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth panel study. BMI trajectories were analyzed over age using growth curve models stratified by sex. The effects of being currently incarcerated generally increased BMI but varied by race/ethnic-education group: for men blacks experienced the largest increases while the effects were lowered for men and women with more than a high school diploma. Cumulative exposure to prison increased BMI for all groups. These results suggest a differential effect of incarceration on BMI among some racial/ethnic-education minority groups.

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Presented in Poster Session 7