Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and it is now cited along with obesity as a global epidemic. Significant racial/ethnic disparities exist in the prevalence of diabetes within the US, with racial and ethnic minorities disproportionately affected by type 2 diabetes and its complications. Racial/ethnic and socioeconomic factors influence the development and course of diabetes at multiple levels, including genetic, individual, familial, community and national. From an ecodevelopmental perspective, cultural variables assessed at one level (e.g., family level dietary practices) may interact with other types of variables examined at other levels (e.g., the availability of healthy foods within a low-income neighborhood), thus prompting the need for a clear analysis of these systemic relationships as they may increase risks for disease. Therefore, the need exists for models that aid in “mapping out” these relationships. A more explicit conceptualization of such multi-level relationships would aid in the design of culturally relevant interventions that aim to maximize effectiveness when applied with Latinos and other racial/ethnic minority groups. This paper presents an expanded ecodevelopmental model intended to serve as a tool to aid in the design of multi-level diabetes prevention interventions for application with racial/ethnic minority populations. This discussion focuses primarily on risk factors and prevention intervention in Latino populations, although with implications for other racial/ethnic minority populations that are also at high risk for type 2 diabetes.
Keywords: Ecodevelopmental model, Type 2 diabetes, Diabetes prevention, Latino populations, Cultural context