Inaugural diabetes summit launched in Copenhagen – University of Copenhagen

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18 November 2015

Inaugural diabetes summit launched in Copenhagen


A new research study launched at the inaugural cities changing diabetes summit here in Copenhagen has shown social, cultural and economic factors play a much bigger role in the spread of urban diabetes than previously thought thus helping to challenge current scientific understanding of the problem.

More than 500 face-to-face interviews took place with at-risk and diagnosed people living in five major cities: Copenhagen, Houston, Mexico City, Shanghai and Tianjin. Helping researchers build a clearer picture of why certain people in certain urban environments were more susceptible to diabetes.

One of the key speakers at the summit, Professor Finn Diderichsen from the Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen and head of the Danish analysis, challenged the notion that lack of knowledge was a barrier to preventing diabetes. “Our research indicates that people are aware of the risk factors and related complications and have already sufficient knowledge.”

Yet Professor Diderichsen stressed the fact that ‘diabetes was a disease that showed large inequalities’. The Danish research found those most at-risk were single men over 45 normally on low income or unemployed. “They have so many other issues to deal with in their daily lives, including economic and other health issues so dealing with diabetes was way down in the hierarchy – other social problems took precedence,”     he adds.

Dr Faith Foreman Assistant director for Public Health in Houston agreed that many of the issues about diabetes and prevention were the same across the five cities. “We are all having to address the same issues around diabetes management yet there is a lot to learn from Copenhagen – the focus on health and biking – the ability to design a city to be preventative. That is something I will be taking back to Houston, encouraging active forms of transportation,” she says.

Novo Nordisk who initiated Cities Changing Diabetes have made a longstanding commitment to providing more than pharmaceuticals to the fight against diabetes. “Research of this nature will fundamentally change the trajectory of the disease through targeted actions informed by new understanding,” says Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Rebien Søresen from the summit press release.

“Copenhagen is a very creative city and shows that city planning is hugely important,” says Deputy Division Chef Cai Chun from Shanghai Municipal, China. “What I have learned from coming here is if we want to address this disease, then it’s not only the disease but a social challenge.”

Associate Professor Ulla Christensen, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen thought choosing the Danish capital was a good example for the inaugural summit as the city already promotes a lot of physical activity, including walking and biking and access to free health-care. “We show that it is possible and it can be done in other cities,” she concludes.