Abstract Background Poor diet may contribute to deleterious chronic health among individuals incarcerated. Yet, limited research has evaluated the nutritional content of menus and commissary items provided in jails. Thus, this study assessed the macronutrient distribution, caloric composition, and diet quality of the seven-day cycle menu and commissary items provided in a southwest, rural county jail in the United States. Methods Daily and mean availability of calories and macronutrients for the seven-day cycle menu and commissary items were estimated using NutritionCalc Plus®. Diet quality (i.e., Healthy Eating Index-2015 [HEI-2015]) was assessed. Macronutrients and calories were compared to the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) and the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). Protein and carbohydrate were compared to the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI). HEI-2015 was compared to the average U.S. diet. Results Daily caloric provisions exceeded DGA recommendations. Daily available (16.2%-25.2% kcal/day) and mean protein met the AMDR recommendations, yet exceeded the DRI. Mean protein with commissary packs exceeded the AMDR recommendations and DRI. Daily available carbohydrate met AMDR recommendations for all but two days of the seven-day cycle menu, which exceeded recommendations (52.5%-66.4% kcal/day). Mean carbohydrate met the AMDR recommendations and exceeded the DRI, and with the commissary packs, exceeded the AMDR recommendations and DRI. Daily available total fat for the seven-day cycle menu (79.5–146.7 g), mean total fat alone and with the commissary packs exceeded AMDR recommendations. Daily available saturated fat for the seven-day cycle menu (16.7–47.7 g) exceeded AMDR recommendations for all but one day of the seven-day cycle menu, while mean saturated fat alone and with the commissary packs exceeded AMDR recommendations. Daily available added sugars for the seven-day cycle menu (8.4–14.2 g), mean added sugars alone and with the commissary packs all met AMDR recommendations. HEI-2015 scores for the seven-day cycle menu ranged from 49.3–74.5 (mean = 62.2, SD = 9.4), and increased with the commissary packs. Conclusions Exceeding caloric and saturated fat recommendations may contribute to weight gain, regardless of high diet quality. Increasing nutrient-dense foods available in jail may reduce chronic disease among incarcerated populations.
|Date made available