Otavio Domingos da Costa is from Brazil and has type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Sustainable business

Preventing chronic diseases

There can be a future where fewer people are living with type 2 diabetes and obesity

Otavio Domingos da Costa is from Brazil and has type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Preventing chronic diseases

There are many reasons why chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and obesity have been on the rise for decades. Some are due to risk factors that are not preventable, such as genetic factors and the simple fact that humans are living longer.

Doing nothing to stop this rise will only lead to more human suffering and more healthcare spending. Our customers are healthcare systems and the people using our treatments. If we do nothing to prevent chronic diseases, we are not living up to our values as a company, nor are we driving a sustainable business.

The main reasons for increased rates of type 2 diabetes and obesity often include a combination of increasing urbanisation, socioeconomic inequalities, less active lifestyles and poorer diets. These are areas where preventive actions can have a positive effect, by reducing socioeconomic inequalities and facilitating more active lifestyles and balanced diets. 

We want to bend the curve on the rise of type 2 diabetes and obesity. There is no doubt prevention is key.

Keep reading and see how we work with chronic disease prevention.

Working together

Partnering to prevent type 2 diabetes


100 years after the discovery of insulin, we are looking ahead to the next 100 years of type 2 diabetes research. Together with the University of Toronto, we have established the Novo Nordisk Network for Healthy Populations . The network will unite experts in public health and chronic disease research to focus on uncovering new prevention tactics to halt the rise of type 2 diabetes.

This interdisciplinary effort will explore critical questions related to chronic diseases such as how transportation, mobilities, and the built environment are key enablers of health and well-being. The role of new technologies including virtual care, remote training and support, and wearable devices in diabetes care and obesity prevention will also be explored.

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We must stop the rise of chronic disease

As a leader in diabetes care, we have an obligation to people’s health, and a business interest in resilient healthcare systems that can afford our innovations for people living with diabetes. To tackle both the rising prevalence of type 2 diabetes and obesity, we are taking actions to stop these diseases before they start. Our current focus is on urban health, childhood overweight and obesity.

The Healthy Food Challenge

As part of our efforts to find, pilot and scale solutions to prevent diabetes and obesity, we will invite communities, start-ups, businesses, NGOs and grassroot organisations, educational institutions, public agencies and more to submit proposals through a series of open innovation challenges.

The first challenge, the Healthy Food Challenge, will focus on preventing obesity through solutions that advance healthy and sustainable food environments among vulnerable people. The Healthy Food Challenge is launched in partnership with the organization EAT and we are calling for innovative ideas from across the globe. We will fund the 3 best ideas with up to $100.000 to pilot their implementation.

Click here to learn more 

Cities Changing Diabetes

Preventing type 2 diabetes in cities

Two out of three people living with type 2 diabetes reside in cities. The way urban areas are designed, built and run is changing the way we live and, in some cases, increasing our vulnerability to type 2 diabetes. 

We coined the term ‘urban diabetes’ as a way to focus on the risk factor inherent in cities together with University College London and Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen. Together we launched a global partnership called Cities Changing Diabetes.

In more than 25 cities around the world, we are drawing attention to type 2 diabetes as a crucial health issue in cities. We are working with more than 100 partners to improve research and inform policies to design interventions that deliver meaningful impact on the frontline of the disease.

To learn more about our fight against urban diabetes, go to Cities Changing Diabetes.

Childhood overweight and obesity is everybody’s business

Preventing childhood obesity

Globally, 40 million children under the age of five are overweight. This puts them at risk of developing early onset of type 2 diabetes, and is a strong predictor of adult obesity. 

These children may also face challenges in thriving and reaching their full potential. Being overweight can contribute to stigmatisation, poor socialisation and emotional difficulties, and in some cases reduced educational attainment.

Together with UNICEF, we are working on the prevention of childhood overweight and obesity. Starting in Mexico and Colombia, but with a broader regional and global reach and impact, the partnership aims to ‘shift the narrative’ regarding prevention of overweight and obesity from a focus on individual responsibility to the need for addressing environments that promote obesity.

We believe every child should have the chance to grow well in a changing world and to fulfil their potential. 

Visit UNICEF's website to see what is being done to improve the state of the world's children.

Is your city taking action?

In cities from Beijing to Houston, our partners have been uncovering the things that are putting their citizen’s at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and obesity. They have been using these insights to shape new urban health actions and policies, ranging from new city strategies to innovative peer-to-peer support programmes and large-scale screening drives. Below is a snapshot of activities that take an innovative approach to the old, and stubborn, problem of how to promote healthier lifestyles.
Faith meets type 2 diabetes prevention in Houston

Faith meets type 2 diabetes prevention in Houston

Realising that many Houstonians were not using the healthcare system, the Cities Changing Diabetes programme team in Houston, Texas reached out religious and spiritual leaders to see if they could help.

Leicester - Healthy Goals programme

Leicester - Healthy Goals programme

Healthy Goals is an education and physical activity programme that helps South-Asian communities in Leicester prevent the rise of type 2 diabetes. It spans twelve weeks and focuses on education, lifestyle changes, and physical activity.

Munich - The Cycling Without Age initiative

Munich - The Cycling Without Age initiative

The Cycling Without Age initiative helps to tackle the overlooked risk factor of loneliness and isolation for the elderly and people living with and vulnerable to developing diabetes in Munich.