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UCL, Novo Nordisk and the Steno Diabetes Center partner take action against urban diabetes

3 April 2014

UCL is partnering with Novo Nordisk and the Steno Diabetes Center – a world leading institution in diabetes care and prevention – to launch the Cities Changing Diabetes initiative, an ambitious new partnership programme to fight urban diabetes. 

The Cities Changing Diabetes programme will initially launch in Mexico City, with cities in North America, Europe and Asia to follow. 

The aim of the programme is to map where the problem of diabetes is most acute, share solutions and drive concrete action to fight it in cities around the world. To do so, the partners will work with a range of additional local partners including healthcare professionals, city authorities, urban planners, businesses, academics and community leaders, amongst others.

Following the programme’s initial discovery phase, UCL will work with Novo Nordisk and the Steno Diabetes Center and a range of policy makers and experts drawn from health authorities, the private sector and the volunteer sector to announce multi-year action plans detailing the commitments of its campaign in each of the cities that will be part of the programme.

UCL’s contribution will be led by Professor David Napier, Professor of Medical Anthropology in the UCL Department of Anthropology. He will be leading a team of research staff who will gather data on the ground about diabetes epidemiology in urban environments. His involvement was facilitated by UCL Consultants, an independent company wholly owned by UCL and one of the UK’s leading providers of academic consultancy services. 

The rise of diabetes is one of the world’s most serious health challenges. By 2030, it is estimated that more than half a billion people will suffer from diabetes. Today, nearly two thirds of everyone with diabetes live in cities, and those who move to cities are significantly more likely to develop diabetes than those who remain in rural settings. 

From rising wealth and increasing consumption, to more sedentary lifestyles and inequality of access to health care, urban living presents a major challenge to health and has become one of the key drivers behind the acceleration of global diabetes. 

“The global diabetes epidemic is a catastrophe about to happen and no one concerned about health can be complacent about this," says Lars Rebien Sørensen, chief executive officer, Novo Nordisk. "Whilst there are many factors fuelling the growth trajectory of diabetes, the most striking contributor is urbanisation and the growth of cities. The Cities Changing Diabetes programme is our call to arms for people around the world to join forces and work together to create cities which can help us live more healthy lives." 

David Napier, Professor of Medical Anthropology in the UCL Department of Anthropology, said:

“We are delighted to bring our expertise to bear through supporting research that will underpin Cities Changing Diabetes. We will be working on the ground to gather data across the globe, setting a baseline to the challenge of diabetes, and acting as a platform for future action. Working with Cities Changing Diabetes, we aim to make an impact that is sustainable into the future, giving new momentum to this global initiative.”

Miguel Ángel Mancera, Mayor of Mexico City, added:

“Diabetes is Mexico City’s number one healthcare challenge. Whilst over the years we have implemented significant initiatives to battle obesity and diabetes and have seen some successes, diabetes remains an enormous burden for health services in the city.  Mexico City has the highest prevalence of obesity in Mexico, exceeding the national average across all age groups. Diabetes remains an enormous burden on our health services. I believe that Cities Changing Diabetes will spur concerted action across all people and organisations that can make a true difference in my city and in other cities around the world.”

About UCL (University College London)

Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. We are among the world's top universities, as reflected by performance in a range of international rankings and tables. UCL currently has 27,000 students from almost 140 countries, and around 11,000 employees. Our annual turnover is nearly £1 billion. www.ucl.ac.uk | Follow us on Twitter @uclnews

About UCL Consultants (UCLC)

UCLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of UCL and one of the UK’s leading providers of academic consultancy services.  We are the gateway for external organisations to access the world class academic expertise and research facilities of UCL, through our services in Academic Consultancy, Expert Witness, Testing & Analysis and Training & Short Courses. www.uclconsultants.com

About Novo Nordisk

Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk is a global healthcare company with 90 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care. The company also has leading positions within haemophilia care, growth hormone therapy and hormone-replacement therapy. Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk employs approximately 37,000 employees in 75 countries, and markets its products in more than 180 countries. For more information, visit novonordisk.com.  


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