Weight gain and mental health in the Canadian prison population


Most inmates gain excessive bodyweight during incarceration in Canadian federal penitentiaries. It is currently unknown if the weight gain is related to participants’ higher prevalence of mental illness and/or psychotropic medication use. This study examined how weight change (kg) and body mass index (BMI) change (kg/m2) of 1,420 participants were associated with mental health status and psychotropic medication use. Participants who took psychotropic medications did not gain more weight during incarceration compared to their counterparts who were not taking psychotropic medications (6.5 kg vs. 6.0 kg, p = 0.87, respectively). However, participants taking psychotropic medications were more likely to be overweight or obese, which means they already had higher BMI at the beginning of their incarceration as opposed to gaining more weight during incarceration. Weight gain of participants observed during incarceration in Canadian federal penitentiaries was not related to the higher prevalence of mental illness or psychotropic medication use.

Lead Researchers

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  1. Jean-Philippe Chaput

    Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

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