How Urban Living Is Making Us Diabetic

Diabetes might be considered a silent killer, but it’s making its presence known in the hustle and bustle of city life. In fact, 2 out of 3 people with diabetes now live in cities. Diabetes isn’t even a first-world problem anymore, it’s a chronic problem across the globe.

Fortunately, new programs, like Novo Nordisk’s “Cities Changing Diabetes,” are helping to fill in how city life became an ideal environment for diabetes and how to help the diabetes epidemic.

Cities Changing Diabetes

Last week, Novo Nordisk launched its new Cities Changing Diabetes initiative. The first wave of the program will launch in Mexico City — Mexico did recently beat the United States for the “Most Obese” country title. As reported in CBS News, the most obese Mexican citizens are overwhelmingly the poor, the young and the most malnourished.

In 2013, diabetes-related deaths claimed 70,281 lives in Mexico, making diabetes the primary cause of death in the country. Since diabetes is a pervasive problem throughout the world, similar launches are planned for parts of North America, Asia and Europe.

Cities Changing Diabetes is really out to change the diabetes epidemic in cities. Per The Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire, Novo Nordisk will tackle diabetes in cities in three ways: “map the problem, share solutions and drive concrete action to fight the diabetes challenge in the big cities around the world.”

Novo Nordisk isn’t planning on fighting diabetes alone. The organization is teaming with the University College London and the project is backed by the Steno Diabetes Center, a Denmark-based institution committed to preventing and fighting diabetes. Urban planners, academics, policy makers, healthcare professionals and community leaders will also be involved in the diabetes project because it is a city affair.

Diabetes and Urban Living

In a fact sheet, Novo Nordisk explains how there are approximately 382 million people living with diabetes across the globe. If that wasn’t bad enough, this number “is expected to rise over half a billion by 2035.”

There a few prominent reasons why diabetes (and other chronic diseases) thrives in a city, here are a few reasons:

  • More food:  There’s more food and, by consequence, there’s more consumption.
  • Less quality food: The quality in nutritional foods has greatly changed. Many are consuming more processed foods and less real, whole foods.
  • Same staple food: As reported in the Los Angeles Times, the global food supply is becoming more homogenous than ever. While traditional and native foods are declining (e.g. yams, maca and oca), new research highlights how, “Wheat is a major staple in 97.4% of countries, and rice in 90.8%; soy is significant to 74.3% of countries.”
  • Less burning off food: City life is convenient and increasingly sedentary. City dwellers don’t have to be as active as people who live in the country.

New Diabetic Research Says

If you still don’t believe that lifestyle plays a large role in diabetes, then new research may convince you. As reported in Med Page Today, new research from China shows, for the first time, how lifestyle intervention through diet and exercise “decreased the incidence of diabetes, cardiovascular mortality, and all-cause mortality in adults with impaired glucose tolerance.”

While lifestyle is a highly effective way to prevent and treat diabetes, it isn’t the only option. As reported in USA Today, new research from a 3-year study also spotlights how obesity surgery can be another effective treatment option for uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes. For a more enjoyable treatment option, look no further than dark chocolate. Research from the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry explains how dark chocolate is rich in flavanols, a kind of antioxidant, that is responsible for preventing obesity and diabetes.

Photo Credit: Oskar Annermarken


Melania Padilla
Melania P3 years ago

Living far from nature cannot be good, it is common sense... We are becoming beings living surrounded by nonliving things, cannot be good I think.

Eric Lees
Eric Lees3 years ago

Cheap low quality food promoted by tge government through substudizes. Less purchasing power leads to people choosing cheaper foods. Decline in education leads to poorer choices. Progress has lead to less physical labor required. Many factors.
Maybewe can learn a few things from the Amish, low stress hard working good living. I'll be mowing with my human powered reel mower today.

Natasha Salgado
Past Member 3 years ago

It's also a growing concern with our pets now. Thanks

Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper3 years ago


Alina Kanaski
Alina Kanaski3 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Oleg Kobetz
Oleg Kobets3 years ago

Thank you

Liliana Garcia
Liliana Garcia3 years ago

Why start this program with Mexico? Why not pick one of the other countries? So Mexico got fatter... By whose standards? As I understand the issue is diabetes not body weight. I know thin people with type 2 diabetes. Mexico has had the tough luck of corrupted governments which, among other things, permitted Monsanto to take over the corn production, corn being a staple in the Mexican diet. Such gross intervention in a relatively short time makes them an unlikely place to start the program. First drive Monsanto out of there!!!

Sugna E.
Sugna E.3 years ago

As a diabetic and a person extremely disapproving of disinformation and bad journalism reading this article was abhorrent. "2 out of 3 people with diabetes now live in cities" you begin, this is silly as in the UK, of which you seem to be reffering, 90% of people live in cities.. this would imply the opposite of what you're saying. "traditional and native foods are declining (e.g. yams, maca and oca)" When has a yam, a maca or an oca been traditional or native to the UK?
You pad out this idiocy with redundant fluff about how exercise and a good diet is good for your all-round AND cardiovascular health?
Then finally finish with a flourish telling us that the answer is all in dark chocolate?
I despair at the comment herein and created this account for the sole purpose of providing a voice of reason (read: sanity, perhaps)