International study prompts rethink on the rise of diabetes in cities

Novo NordiskInternational research led by University College London (UCL) as part of the 'Cities Changing Diabetes' partnership programme challenges current scientific understanding of the rapid rise of diabetes in cities. The findings suggest that in cities around the world, social and cultural factors play a far more important role in the spread of the epidemic than previously thought.

More than two thirds of the world's 400 million people with diabetes live in urban areas.(1,2) The year-long study for Cities Changing Diabetes, a unique public-private-academic partnership, sought to better understand what makes people vulnerable to type 2 diabetes in cities in order to inform solutions for one of the most pressing modern-day public health challenges. To explore this complex issue, more than 550 interviews were undertaken with at-risk and diagnosed people in five major cities - Copenhagen, Houston, Mexico City, Shanghai and Tianjin.

"By largely focusing on biomedical risk factors for diabetes, traditional research has not adequately accounted for the impact of social and cultural drivers of disease," says David Napier, Professor of Medical Anthropology, UCL. "Our pioneering research will enable cities worldwide to help populations adapt to lifestyles that make them less vulnerable to diabetes."

The study found that diabetes vulnerability in cities is linked to a complex mix of social and cultural factors(1) - responsible for both putting people at greater initial risk and subsequently making them less likely to be diagnosed, receive treatment and maintain good health. The identified social factors included financial, geographical, resource and time constraints while cultural determinants included the perception of body size and health and deep-seated traditions.(1)

"The insights we have gained from the Cities Changing Diabetes research have fundamentally changed the way we think about diabetes in our city," said Dr Armando Ahued Ortega, Minister of Health of Mexico City.

"This new understanding of sociocultural risk factors will guide the development of increasingly efficient and targeted public health policies to support the health and wellbeing of our citizens."

Prompted by the findings, Novo Nordisk has pledged to support the fight against urban diabetes via the investment of 20 million USD of expert resource and research funds by 2020. Commenting on the promise, Lars Rebien Sørensen, president and chief executive, Novo Nordisk said: "We have a longstanding commitment to provide more than just pharmaceuticals to the fight against diabetes. Research of this nature illustrates precisely why we initiated Cities Changing Diabetes - to fundamentally change the trajectory of the disease through targeted actions informed by new understanding."

The Cities Changing Diabetes partnership has three distinct but interconnecting phases - mapping, sharing and action. With the initial mapping phase now complete, the Copenhagen Summit meeting will see 250 expert delegates from around the world come together to discuss the learnings and discuss solutions to tackle diabetes in cities.

In the longer-term, the partnership aims to tackle the rise of diabetes in cities around the world via the sharing of insights and knowledge of participants. In 2016, Vancouver and Johannesburg will become the latest cities to join the programme and contribute to the international pool of evidence.

About Cities Changing Diabetes
Cities Changing Diabetes is a partnership programme to address the urban diabetes challenge. Initiated by Novo Nordisk, the programme is a response to the dramatic rise of urban diabetes and has been developed in partnership with University College London and Steno Diabetes Center, as well as a range of local partners including the diabetes/health community, city governments, academic institutions, city experts (from a variety of fields) and civil society organisations. The aim of the programme is to map the problem, share solutions and drive concrete action to fight the diabetes challenge in the big cities around the world.

About Novo Nordisk
Novo Nordisk is a global healthcare company with more than 90 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care. This heritage has given us experience and capabilities that also enable us to help people defeat other serious chronic conditions: haemophilia, growth disorders and obesity. Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk employs approximately 39,700 people in 75 countries and markets its products in more than 180 countries.

1. Data on file, Cities Changing Diabetes
2. International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas 2014 update, 6th edn. Brussels, Belgium: International Diabetes Federation, 2014 update.
3. International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas 2015 update, 7th edn. Brussels, Belgium: International Diabetes Federation, 2015 update.

Most Popular Now

Roche's COVID-19 antibody test receives FDA Emerge…

Roche (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY) announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) (1) for its new Elecsys® Ant...

Pfizer and BioNTech dose first participants in the…

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and BioNTech SE (Nasdaq: BNTX) announced that the first participants have been dosed in the U.S. in the Phase 1/2 clinical trial for the BNT162 va...

Johnson & Johnson announces collaboration to e…

Johnson & Johnson (the Company) (NYSE: JNJ) announced a collaboration between the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and Emergent BioSolutions, Inc. to...

Researchers urge clinical trial of blood pressure …

Researchers in the Ludwig Center at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center report they have identified a drug treatment that could - if given early enough - potentially r...

Official COVID-19 deaths underestimate the full im…

According to a study by Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the northern Italian city of Nembro recorded more deaths during March 2020 than between January and December...

Local climate unlikely to drive the early COVID-19…

Local variations in climate are not likely to dominate the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Princeton University study published May 18 in the journal ...

Early indicators of vaccine efficacy

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Munich researchers have shown that a specific class of immune cells in the blood induced by vaccination is an earlier indicator of...

Arthritis drug may improve respiratory function in…

A small study in Greece found that the clinically approved anti-inflammatory drug anakinra, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, improved respiratory function in patients ...

AstraZeneca advances response to global COVID-19 c…

AstraZeneca is advancing its ongoing response to address the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, collaborating with a number of countries and multilateral organisations...

Frankfurt researchers discover potential targets f…

A team of biochemists and virologists at Goethe University and the Frankfurt University Hospital were able to observe how human cells change upon infection with SARS-CoV-...

Antibody neutralizes SARS and COVID-19 coronavirus…

An antibody first identified in a blood sample from a patient who recovered from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2003 inhibits related coronaviruses, including the c...

Vitamin D linked to low virus death rate

A new study has found an association between low average levels of vitamin D and high numbers of COVID-19 cases and mortality rates across 20 European countries. The r...