A Growing Threat at Guantanamo? Detainees Fatten Up

ByABC News
October 3, 2006, 12:24 PM

Oct. 3, 2006 — -- SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Fueled by a high-calorie diet,detainees at Guantanamo Bay are becoming fat.

Most of the prisoners arrived at the military prison insoutheast Cuba slightly underweight but have since gained anaverage of 20 pounds (9 kilograms), and most are now "normal tomildly overweight or mildly obese," Navy Cmdr. Robert Durand,spokesman for the detention facilities, said Monday.

One detainee's weight has almost doubled to 410 pounds (186kilograms), Durand said.

U.S. officials assess whether detainees are overweight bycalculating their body-mass index, a measurement of weight inrelation to height.

Human rights groups attribute the weight gain to lack ofmobility in the detainees' small cells. They also cited accounts ofreleased detainees who said they were at times allowed to exercisefewer than three times a week.

The detainees' meals total a whopping 4,200 calories per day.U.S. government dietary guidelines for weight maintenance recommend2,000 to 3,000 calories per day.

Inmates at U.S. federal prisons receive about 2,900 calories aday, said Michael Truman, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau ofPrisons, who added that weight gain is studied only where it posesa health risk, though it does not appear widespread.

"Most of them keep themselves in pretty good shape," he said.

Durand said detainees are served a wide variety of food andexpected to choose what appeals to them.

"The detainees are advised that they are offered more food thannecessary to provide choice and variety, and that consuming all thefood they are offered will result in weight gain," he said.

About 460 detainees are currently at Guantanamo, including someheld for more than four years on suspicion of links to al-Qaida andthe Taliban.

The meals include meats prepared according to Islamicguidelines, fresh bread and yogurt. With nearly all detaineesfasting in the daytime during Ramadan, authorities have arrangedfor two separate meals -