Urban diabetes in Leicester

Leicester is an ethnically and culturally diverse city in the heart of England. Of the city’s 340,000 population, only 50% identify themselves as being of White ethnicity, compared with an average of 87% across the rest of the UK.


The remainder of Leicester’s population is made up of a range of ethnic identities. This gives the city a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural vibrancy. The largest ethnic minority group in Leicester is South Asian (32 %) and there are more than 70 languages and/or dialects which are spoken in the city. Leicester has a large socio-economic spectrum, with areas of both wealth and severe deprivation, and is currently ranked as the 20th most deprived region in England.

The diabetes prevalence rate is among one of the highest in the UK at 8.9% and well above the national average of 6.4%. Those figures translate to approximately 25,000 people in Leicester with diabetes, with a further 6,000 who have not yet been diagnosed. 37% of Leicester school children in school year six are overweight.


Global studies on ethnic groups and minorities, and the rising incidence of diabetes have revealed that ethnicity can increase or decrease one’s risk of developing diabetes. It is because of Leicester’s cultural mix and the high prevalence of Type 2 diabetes that the team felt the city’s involvement to the Cities Changing Diabetes programme would be beneficial.

Street photo of Leicester


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Launch celebrates Leicester joining programme

Leicester has officially become the only UK city to join a global campaign developed to raise awareness of and prevent type 2 diabetes around the world.

Leicester's involvement in the worldwide programme, developed to raise awareness of type 2 diabetes, was made official at a launch event  on Tuesday, May 1 at the City Hall between noon and 4pm.

The city-wide campaign, led by the Leicester Diabetes Centre is in partnership with Novo Nordisk and Leicester city stakeholders.

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Diabetes ‘action plan’ to tackle rise in Leicester

The latest diabetes figures have shown Leicester has one of the highest prevalence rates in the country at 8.98 per cent, well above the national average of 6.4 per cent.

However, the Leicester Changing Diabetes programme means a dedicated action plan is already underway as part of the global initiative developed to tackle urban diabetes.

Diabetes UK released the figures showing that diagnoses of diabetes have more than doubled in the UK in the past 20 years.

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The Leicester Diabetes Centre already has a wealth of research data about its City and type 2 diabetes, and is now in the process of working with its Stakeholders to conduct data triangulation including the prevalence of obesity, diabetes and prediabetes and provide a comprehensive and unique city-wide profile. Whilst still in the early phase of this data gathering process the first part of the quantitative research was presented during the launch event in Leicester.


Cities Changing Diabetes in Leicester was initiated by Leicester Diabetes Centre (LDC), who together with Novo Nordisk form the contracting partners for the programme. LDC is a unique collaboration of clinicians, academics and researchers from the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and the University of Leicester.

The LDC has over fifteen years of world-leading research on Type 2 diabetes prevention and management, and has already engaged with key city stakeholders to join together and take a leading role in guiding the work, and building the story for the Leicester Changing Diabetes programme. The Programme provides the perfect backdrop and opportunity for additional stakeholders and groups from across the city to join and become involved and work collaboratively to give the people of Leicester access to the best possible outcomes when it comes to preventing and managing Type 2 diabetes.

Leicester Diabetes Centre


Melanie Davies

Professor Melanie Davies CBE, Professor of Diabetes Medicine at the University of Leicester and Director of the Leicester Diabetes Centre:

“Type 2 diabetes represents a significant challenge, especially in our multi-ethnic city, but a challenge we are committed to meeting. In Leicester it’s thought that one in seven people (14%) aged between 40 and 75 already have pre-diabetes and are deemed at very high risk of developing type 2 diabetes within the next five years. This initiative provides an excellent opportunity for the Leicester Diabetes Centre and our partners across the city to get involved and work collaboratively to give the people of Leicester access to the best possible outcomes when it comes to preventing and managing type 2 diabetes.”

Kamlesh Khunti

Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester and Co-Director at Leicester Diabetes Centre

“We firmly believe 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. This is a chance for all our representatives and agencies to come together and tackle a public health priority, placing type 2 diabetes at the heart of a coordinated, multi-agency approach.”

Adam Clarke

Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke

“Diabetes, and particularly type 2 diabetes, is a major challenge in the city. We know that many of these cases can be prevented by supporting people to make changes to their diet and helping them to get more active. The city’s programme of investment to improve the urban environment – including new cycle lanes, more outdoor gyms, improved pedestrian routes, and effective and accessible lifestyle services – will support this. As a partner in Cities Changing Diabetes, we are joining a global programme to develop the best possible interventions for addressing a very real local issue, in a city where almost 9% of the population are living with diabetes.”