Leicester to become first UK city to join global initiative against urban diabetes

Leicester will join the likes of Copenhagen, Mexico City, Rome and Shanghai in becoming part of the Cities Changing Diabetes programme to tackle the dramatic rise of type 2 diabetes in urban areas.

The Leicester Diabetes Centre, responsible for this unique partnership, is a world-leading clinical research, evidence-based education and cutting-edge innovation. Based at Leicester General Hospital, and serving as a partnership and collaboration between the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and the University of Leicester, it is now Europe’s largest diabetes facility, with strong links to local Clinical Commissioning Groups.

An overwhelming two-thirds of people with diabetes worldwide live in urban areas, complex environments in which a variety of nutritional, demographic, social, cultural and economic factors impact the health of their inhabitants.

In the UK, Leicester is home to one of the largest populations of people with diabetes – almost 9% of its residents – 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. Joining a network of global forerunners to explore ways of encouraging healthy lifestyle habits in cities will help the approximate 34,000 people already living with diabetes in Leicester and thousands more at risk of developing the disease.

Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester and Director at Leicester Diabetes Centre (LDC), commented: “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.”

Professor Davies CBE, Professor of Diabetes Medicine at the University of Leicester and Director at LDC, 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.”