Leicester joins worldwide campaign to prevent type 2 diabetes.

With an estimated two-thirds of people with type 2 diabetes worldwide living in urban areas a campaign has been launched to take on the factors that affect the health of people in cities.

The complex environment of urban living can produce a variety of nutritional, demographic, social, cultural and economic factors that can impact on the health of city inhabitants.

The Cities Changing Diabetes was launched in 2014 to work on new approaches to the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes in urban areas.

Leicester has joined the likes of Copenhagen, Mexico City, Rome and Shanghai in becoming part of the programme to tackle the dramatic rise of type 2 diabetes in urban areas.

Leicester is home to one of the largest populations of people with diabetes in the UK, with around 9% of residents diagnosed with the condition – well above the national average of 6.4%.

Living with type 2 diabetes can reduce life expectancy by as much as 10 years and can double an individual’s risk of stroke within the first five years of diagnosis compared with the general population.

By joining the global network exploring ways of encouraging healthy lifestyle habits in cities it is hoped the health of around 26,500 people already living with diabetes in Leicester, and thousands more at risk of developing the condition, could be improved.

View of colourful buildings in Copenhagen.


Copenhagen (pictured), Mexico City, Rome and Shanghai are all part of the Cities Changing Diabetes initiative. 

Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester and Director at Leicester Diabetes Centre, said: “Type 2 diabetes represents a significant challenge, especially in our multi-ethnic city, but a challenge we are committed to meeting.

“The launch of the Cities Changing Diabetes programme here in Leicester will be a major boost to help us drive positive environmental changes that could reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as well as ensure those with the condition have the right level of support and education to manage it properly.”

The Cities Changing Diabetes, started by Novo Nordisk, University College London and Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen, has so far worked on many new approaches to the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes, with community, urban planning and health promotion activities pioneered by programme partners.

Activities have included group ‘healthy cooking’ sessions among middle-aged men in Copenhagen; the creation of a ‘Rome Passport’ to map walking and running routes through the city; and a door-to-door doctor and diabetes screening service in Mexico City.

At a global summit on the Cities Changing Diabetes programme was held in Houston last week, attended by clinical and policy leaders from the partner cities a call for obesity to be reduced by 25% globally by 2045, from today’s level of 26% of the UK population in order to improve the health of people living in cities.

Professor Melanie Davies CBE, Professor of Diabetes Medicine at the University of Leicester and Director at Leicester Diabetes Centre said: “Cities Changing Diabetes is a once in a generation opportunity to address the complex challenge of type 2 diabetes. The programme will allow the city to work together and tackle important issues such as obesity and physical inactivity particularly in our young people.” 

“If our football club Leicester City can win the Premier League, then we can work towards a city with reduced levels of type 2 diabetes as well as ensuring those with the condition have the right level of support and education to manage it properly.”

“Let’s get the best out of Cities Changing Diabetes and harness its full potential. We already have close links across the city but welcome this opportunity for Leicester to work as one on our own very local version of a global campaign.”

Councillor Manjula Sood MBE, Assistant City Mayor of Leicester, said: “As someone who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes only six months ago, this is a subject very close to my heart. People are finding it increasingly difficult to take care of their health and if they are careful and take control of their diet and lifestyle it can be prevented, or at the very least controlled. I welcome the fact that Leicester Diabetes Centre is taking the UK lead in this project.

“This initiative is important for people who don’t know what the risk of a type 2 diabetes diagnosis can mean for their health. The impact if they develop the condition can be devastating if it’s not controlled and must not be ignored.”

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