The study's author, Michael Gibson-Light, a doctoral candidate in the University of Arizona's school of sociology, told The Guardian the prison he studied has cut the number of hot meals it serves per week. On weekends, it used to serve prisoners three meals a day, but now only serves two.
"(Ramen) is easy to get and it’s high in calories," Gibson-Light said. "A lot of (the inmantes), they spend their days working and exercising, and they don't have enough energy to do these things. From there, it became more a story -- why ramen in particular."
Gibson-Light only studied one prison, which he did not identify in an effort to protect the confidentiality of the 60 inmates he interviewed.
But he argued other investigations have also shown that in prisons, ramen might be more valuable than cigarettes.
Gibson-Light says his finding should be seen as a call to examine the quality of care for prisoners.