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This good practice guide, designed for prison officials, looks at the potential to improve prisoners’ health and lifestyles.

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In March 2006, the Comptroller & Auditor General published his report HM Prison Service: Serving time – prisoner diet and exercise which examined improvements made by the Prison Service to prisoners’ diet and exercise. The report found that prisoners have the opportunity to eat healthily and to exercise, but that more could be done to encourage them to do so.

Prisoners’ choice of food is limited to that which is provided in the prison. Opportunities for exercise are on site, with qualified people available to offer help and advice. So there’s potential to improve prisoners’ health and lifestyles – especially those of people who don’t know or don’t remember much about balanced diets and those who can’t afford to use their local gym or leisure centre. Many may be able to eat better food and have easier access to exercise than they’ve had at home.

Healthier lifestyles can help improve people’s sense of wellbeing and self-worth. Prisoners are no different – though many are at a lower starting point. But people have to want to improve – and like everyone else, need lots of encouragement to start and to persevere.