As one of the latest cities to join CCD, Leicester is already taking steps to reduce diabetes prevalence in its communities. CCD and Leicester Changing Diabetes research alerted Leicester’s City Council to the need to develop a City Food Plan, capable of giving residents better food options in the future, and choices that will keep them healthy and help drive down the high pre-diabetes rates that Leicester faces.
Local Partners: Leicester City Council, Leicester Changing Diabetes
If nothing changes, more than 6 million people will be living with diabetes in the UK by 2045, an increase of 50% from today’s figures of 3.7 million.1 Leicester has had a strong reputation for proactive diabetes treatment dating back more than 70 years with the establishment of the first community diabetes clinic. Nowadays, it is home to the Leicester Diabetes Centre; Europe’s largest diabetes facility responsible for world-leading clinical research. Yet, Leicester has one of the highest diabetes prevalence rates in the UK at 8.9%, well above the national average of 6.4%. These figures translate to approximately 31,000 people out of the city’s 632,5682. Alongside this challenge, Leicester has a considerable multi-ethnic, multi-cultural vibrancy; only 50% of the city’s population identifies as white, compared to an average 87% across the remainder of the UK3. It is now broadly understood that alongside genetic factors that may leave people more prone to diabetes, there are a broad range of social and cultural considerations that also must be considered. Leicester has a large pre-diabetes risk, with 82% of 10-15-year olds not doing any daily exercise, 37% of Leicester city children in in year 6 being overweight and 1 in 7 of the adult population known to be at risk of type 2 diabetes with pre-diabetes4.
CCD research has shown that the availability and affordability of healthy food plays a critical role in mitigating the risk of diabetes in cities. The global research conducted in partner cities reinforces the imperative that: economic inequality combined with the dynamics of the food system can make it difficult to access healthy food, or even create food deserts. Moreover, living in busy cities often mean that unhealthy convenience foods are predominantly eaten over fresh, nutritious food. At the same time, strong cultural traditions often mean that foods with high caloric value play an important part in communities.
When Leicester Changing Diabetes identified Leicester’s specific
diabetes risks, they found that these issues were a high-risk factor
in the diabetes and pre-diabetes prevalence of the city.
Leicester Changing Diabetes alongside Leicester City Council were
spurred into action and are developing a city Food Plan. The basis of
the Food Plan is to promote healthy, nutritious, affordable food,
produced with care for the environment and natural resources in a
thriving local food economy.
The first stage is to gather research that will be able to inform
the later program. CCD enlisted the help of ‘Cool as’ Leicester, an
online guide to things to do in Leicester who have a large social
media following. An online survey was designed and published through
the ‘Cool as’ platform, and Leicester’s residents were asked their
perspectives on what “healthy” and “quality” food meant to them as
well their views on whether Leicester’s food and drinks shops were
“healthy” or “unhealthy”.
53% of individuals that answered the survey suggested that calorific energy content was one of the most important factors making a food” healthy” or “unhealthy”. The Leicester City Food Plan will take this data and use it to inform an urban food agenda, to provide residents with healthy, affordable and nutritious food.
There will continue to be a strong collaboration with and among local city stakeholder to ensure continued commitment to create change.
1. Cities Changing Diabetes. Diabetes Projection Model for UK. Data on ﬁle. Novo Nordisk. In: Incentive, ed. Holte, Denmark 2017.
2. Cities Changing Diabetes Global CitiesL Leicester: available here: http://www.citieschangingdiabetes.com/content/Global/AFFILIATE/cities-changing-diabetes/english/cities/leicester.html , [accessed 13/03/2019].
3. Cities Changing Diabetes Global CitiesL Leicester: available here: http://www.citieschangingdiabetes.com/content/Global/AFFILIATE/cities-changing-diabetes/english/cities/leicester.html , [accessed 13/03/2019]
4. Leicester: A city that doesn’t do things by halves (2017); available at: http://www.citieschangingdiabetes.com/content/dam/cities-changing-diabetes/cities/Leicester/rule_halves_brochure_ccd_web.pdf (accessed 13/03/2019)