FOOD MATTERS: Sustainable Diets and Nutrition To Tackle Obesity and Diabetes in Diverse Communities

School of Sport; Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences - University of Birmingham
Wednesday 8 February 2017 (18:30-21:00)

WORKSHOP LEADER: Professor Janice L. Thompson 

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes continues to increase across the lifespan throughout the UK and Europe. For instance, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the UK has risen from 1.4 million to 3.5 million since 1996, and is projected to rise to 5 million by 2025. Globally, diabetes current affects 371 million worldwide, with a predicted increase to 552 million by 2030. Obesity is the major risk for type 2 diabetes, and modification of dietary intake (i.e., food and beverage intake) and engaging in sufficient physical activity are the most effective strategies to prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes.

The burden of obesity and type 2 diabetes is not equitably distributed across all socioeconomic and ethnic groups, as those with higher levels of deprivation have a substantially higher risk; in addition, South Asians and African/Afro-Caribbeans have 3 to 6 times higher risk for type 2 diabetes. The National Diabetes Prevention Programme has recently been rolled out and is being offered to 20,000 individuals who are at risk; by 2020 it is expected there will be 100,000 referrals available each year.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that obesity is the primary contributor to increasing a person’s risk for type 2 diabetes, in 2016 the majority of public health directors across local authorities in England de-commissioned all weight loss services. And although there is irrefutable evidence that optimising food intake and increasing physical activity are effective in reducing obesity and type 2 diabetes, the predominant approach to making these changes is targeted at individuals. This is problematic, as it may not be effective in the longer term, and is not cost-effective at a public health level. As such, there is a clear need to bring together experts and policy makers across a range of disciplines and sectors to develop and integrate a whole systems approach to changing our communities to help people make the healthiest food choices and make being physically active a part of one’s daily routine. This multi-disciplinary, multi-sector workshop will provide a mechanism to achieve this by engaging researchers, policy makers, food entrepreneurs, public health professionals, local authority leaders, and diabetes prevention social enterprises across the UK and Europe to discuss how we can drive change at the grassroots level, and re-think how we manage the food systems in our communities.

If you would like to find out more about this workshop, please email