The city of Rome has been inserted in Cities Changing Diabetes, a multidisciplinary international project aimed at effective and shared actions against the prevalence increase of diabetes in major urban centers of the world.

The Italian chapter of the initiative, with the collaboration of CORESEARCH, is linked to the activities started in Denmark in 2014 by the University of London together with the Danish Steno Diabetes Center, and supported by Novo Nordisk.

The program focuses on metropolis symbols of emerging or mature economic systems such as Mexico City, Copenhagen, Houston, Shanghai and Tianjin. In 2016 Vancouver and Johannesburg have been added until the current period, especially on May 5th, when Italian Capital’s participation in the program was publicly illustrated in Rome, Palazzo Valentini.

Roma Cities Changing Diabetes is coordinated by the Health City Institute in collaboration with a prestigious network composed by the Health Ministry, ANCI, Rome Metropolitan City, Italian National Health Institute (ISS), ISTAT, CENSIS Foundation, IBDO Foundation, Medi Pragma, Universities of Rome, the Scientific Societies of Diabetes and Obesity and the Patient and Citizens Associations.

The Roman Project focuses on “Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity in the Rome Metropolitan Area” and CORESEARCH, led by Dr. Antonio Nicolucci, was entrusted with the crucial task of clinical and epidemiological analyses and evaluations.

It is estimated that 65 percent of people with diabetes live in urban areas. In particular, between Rome and the province, there are almost 300,000 people with diabetes: more people than throughout the Piedmont Italian region. In the Capital alone, there are 190,000 diabetics: the same as in the entire Tuscany.

Aging and obesity are risk factors closely related to the prevalence of diabetes.

“The number of people who are obese,” explains Nicolucci, offering a dimension to the health issue, “has risen 21 percent over the last 13 years in Lazio, so today 1 resident in 10 adulthood is affected by the disease. In addition, the number of over 65 has experienced similar growth in recent years, reaching the amount of 631 thousand people in the city of Rome.”

Moreover, typical unwanted effects of urban chaos are added. It is estimated that 1 citizen out of 5 spends more than 45 minutes for daily travel, far above the national average. If we consider that nearly 60 percent of the Romans use the car, it is concluded that many people in the capital spend a substantial part of their day bottled in the traffic.

Among the data illustrated at Palazzo Valentini, the so-called “Rule of half” aroused interest: “First of all, according to international scientific entities, it is calculated that every three people diagnosed with diabetes there is one who has diabetes unaware of having it”, explains Antonio Nicolucci. “This reasonably leads us to think about the presence of 381,000 diabetics in the Rome metropolitan area. 75 percent of them, 286,000 subjects, are aware of the condition. Of these, 50 percent that means about 143,000 subjects consult a diabetologist over the course of the year. Well, only half of them, that is 71,500, reach optimal glycemic hemoglobin values and, downstream of this worrying waterfall, only half of them, i.e. less than 36,000 diabetics, avoids micro and macrovascular events.”

A recent survey also shows that only 4 percent of Roman citizens are satisfied with the available health care resources. A very important fact if one considers that the same sample of respondents judges health quality as more relevant than employment and security. This in a context of general dissatisfaction with the city’s services: public transport, road cleaning, air quality and poor integration of immigrants.

Rome, however, is still one of the greenest municipalities in Europe with an abundance of parks, gardens, historic villas and protected areas. This is a source of hope for the success of Cities Changing Diabetes as an important cultural contribution to awareness and promotion of targeted interventions for an effective regression of diabetes in the Italian Capital.