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Introduction: Approximately 32 million Americans have type 2 diabetes, and that number continues to grow. Higher prevalence rates are observed among certain subgroups, including members of marginalized racial/ethnic groups as well as residents of disordered neighborhoods (i.e., those with more trash and vandalism). Institutionalized discriminatory practices have resulted in disproportionate representation of marginalized racial/ethnic groups in disordered neighborhoods compared to non-Hispanic Whites. These neighborhood disparities may partially contribute to health disparities, given that signs of neighborhood disorder often relate to a general withdrawal from the neighborhood, minimizing opportunities for both physical and social engagement. Yet, research suggests variability across racial/ethnic groups both in reporting rates of neighborhood disorder and in the extent to which neighborhood disorder is interpreted as posing a threat to health and well-being.

Methods: Using 2016–2018 Health and Retirement Study data (n = 10,419, mean age = 67 years), a representative sample of older US adults, this study examined the possibility of racial/ethnic differences in associations between perceived neighborhood disorder and type 2 diabetes risk. Participants reported their perceptions of neighborhood disorder and type 2 diabetes status. Weighted logistic regression models predicted type 2 diabetes risk by perceived neighborhood disorder, race/ethnicity, and their interaction.

Results: Non-Hispanic Blacks and Hispanics had higher type 2 diabetes risk; these two groups also reported more disorder in their neighborhoods compared to non-Hispanic Whites. Perceiving more neighborhood disorder was associated with increased type 2 diabetes risk, but the interaction between race/ethnicity and disorder was not significant.

Discussion: Findings from the current study suggest that the negative effects of perceiving neighborhood disorder, a neighborhood-level stressor, extend to increased type 2 diabetes risk.


This article was originally published in Frontiers in Public Health, volume 12, in 2024.


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