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.

But there are areas where preventive actions can have a positive effect. Increasing urbanisation, socioeconomic inequalities, less active lifestyles and poorer diets. Often in combination, these are the main reasons why more and more people are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and obesity.

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

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

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 innovation 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 two of these leverage points - urban health and childhood overweight and obesity.

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 (sites in English). 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 (in English).

Childhood overweight and obesity is everybody’s business

Preventing childhood obesity

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

They also may 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.

Tackling food insecurity in Vancouver

Tackling food insecurity in Vancouver

With type 2 diabetes prevalence far higher in low-income areas, the Cities Changing Diabetes programme team in Vancouver, Canada has brought together non-profits, city government, healthcare and businesses to initiate a conversation on the affordability and accessibility of nutritious and healthy food.

Designing health into Buenos Aires

Designing health into Buenos Aires

Despite having some of the best quality of life scores in Latin America, Buenos Aires is suffering from a diabetes epidemic, as the disease rises at an alarming rate. When research showed that urban citizens were becoming less active, local partners took action to rethink how the city’s infrastructure could encourage physical activity and sport.