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Transculturalizing Diabetes Prevention in Latin America


Ramfis Nieto-Martínez ,

Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center (GRECC), Miami VA Healthcare System, South Florida Veterans Affairs Foundation for Research & Education, Miami, FL; Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, Universidad Centro-Occidental “Lisandro Alvarado” and Cardio-metabolic Unit 7, Barquisimeto, Venezuela
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Juan P. González-Rivas,

The Andes Clinic of Cardio-Metabolic Studies, Timotes, Venezuela
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Pablo Aschner,

Javeriana University, San Ignacio University Hospital, Colombian Diabetes Association, Bogotá, Colombia
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Noël C. Barengo,

Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, Florida International University, Miami, FL; Clinicum, Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
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Jeffrey I. Mechanick

Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Bone Disease, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY
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Type 2 diabetes (T2D) imposes a heavy burden in developing countries, requiring effective primary prevention policies. Randomized clinical trials have identified successful strategies in T2D prevention. However, translating these results to real-life scenarios and adapting to ethnocultural differences is a major challenge. Transculturalization allows incorporating cultural factors to diabetes prevention strategies to optimize implementation of clinical trials results. The purpose of this paper is to review the transcultural adaptations developed for T2D prevention in Latin America (LA).


A comprehensive literature review spanning 1960-2016 was performed, using “Diabetes,” “Latin America,” “Prevention,” “Screening,” and “Tools” as key words.


Two major tasks are underway in LA: adaptation of screening tools for high-risk individuals, and implementation of diabetes prevention programs. The Finnish Diabetes Risk Score (FINDRISC) is the most widely used screening tool to detect new cases of T2D and people with prediabetes, and it has been adapted (LA-FINDRISC) to include the waist circumference cutoff values appropriate for LA population (≥94 cm for men and ≥90 cm for women). The validation of the LA-FINDRISC performance depends on the local characteristics. A LA-FINDRISC score >10 may be the best cutoff to identify individuals with impaired glucose regulation in population-based studies, but a higher score (>12-14) might be more appropriate in a clinical setting. A shorter version of the FINDRISC using only the 4 variables with highest impact has been developed and validated in Colombia (ColDRISC). The translation of the Diabetes Prevention Program study in a Latino population in Venezuela found a significant improvement in cardiometabolic risk factors. An adaptation of the Diabetes Prevention Study in the DEMOJUAN study in Barranquilla, Colombia, reduced 2-hour postload glucose.


Successful transculturalization strategies have been implemented in screening tools and prevention programs in LA.
How to Cite: Nieto-Martínez, R., González-Rivas, J.P., Aschner, P., Barengo, N.C. and Mechanick, J.I., 2017. Transculturalizing Diabetes Prevention in Latin America. Annals of Global Health, 83(3-4), pp.432–443. DOI:
Published on 24 Aug 2017.
Peer Reviewed


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