Document Type

Research Progress Report


University of Montana Rural Institute

Publication Date



Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Public Health


A disability often can be complicated by additional medical, psychological, or environmental problems. Under an emerging framework of health promotion for persons with disabilities, these additional health problems are referred to as secondary conditions (Brandt & Pope, 1997; Marge, 1988; Pope & Tarlov, 1991). Until recently, it was common to conceptualize these ailments as symptomatic of the primary disability; however, it is now presumed that because these conditions can be prevented or managed, they are secondary conditions distinct from the primary disability. Although information on secondary conditions experienced by people with developmental disabilities is limited, the literature does contain descriptions of some risk factors (Eyman, Chaney, Givens, Lopez, & Lee, 1986); identification of various diseases as sources of later, additional limitation (Miller & Eyman, 1979); and suggested health practices that might lead to the prevention of some secondary conditions (e.g., Marge, 1988). This research progress report describes three significant nutrition-related risk factors for secondary conditions in people with developmental disabilities—malnutrition, obesity, and issues related to the support staff responsible for food planning and preparation. These risk factors have potential to respond positively to improved health practices through well-considered interventions.


health and wellness, nutrition, secondary conditions, developmental disability, obesity, rural, disability


© RTC: Rural, 2002.

Granting Agency

University of Montana


This research is supported by funding from The University of Montana.