Diabetes risk assessments stopped during the pandemic and vital work needs to continue, says DMU academic

A team of volunteers from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have been undertaking a raft of activities to increase awareness and knowledge of diabetes in the community.

The team had been regulars in the community until the pandemic and they say they are now training more volunteers to continue the vital work with Diabetes UK.


Community risk assessments were carried out during the British Science Festival which was hosted by DMU last week.

The team included Prof Randolph Arroo, Professor of Phytochemistry, Prof Joan Taylor, Emeritus Professor of Pharmaceutics, Dr Ketan Ruparelia, a senior technician, researcher and Diabetes UK Community Champion, Nazmin Juma, a senior technician and Diabetes UK Community Champion and Unmesh Desai, a senior technician living with diabetes.

Dr Ruparelia said: “It’s really important that diabetes education continues in our community. By arming people with the facts and signs to look for, we have a better chance of diagnosing diabetes early.

“This means people can get advice and make lifestyle changes sooner, reducing physiological damage.

“We want as many people in the Leicester area to know the risk factors and symptoms, so they can spread the word too.”


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Leicester has a large South Asian population who, due to various genetic and dietary factors, have an increased risk of developing diabetes.

People from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups are between four and five times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, the kind which comes about and can be managed by diet.

People with diabetes are less able to control the glucose levels in the blood, leading to too much glucose in the body. One effect of Type 2 diabetes is prolonged hyperglycaemia - excess blood glucose - which can damage nerves, blood vessels, tissues and organs.

The team have been part of the Diabetes UK Community Champion programme since 2012 and have run a support group in the Leicester area since 2018). As part of this voluntary work they support people with Type 2 diabetes, connecting them with others and sharing health information and tips to manage the condition.

The volunteers have carried out this work beyond the UK, attending Street Science in L’Aquila, Italy, where they helped train local residents in diabetes community outreach. This is now an annual feature at the event.

Awareness of how diabetes affects someone’s daily activities is important in helping the public to understand the seriousness of the condition. The sort of outreach carried out by the team, which primarily involves knowledge transfer and sharing resources, is an important part of prevention and ensures the community have the tools to spot the symptoms.

Diabetes is having a huge impact on people’s health. Worldwide in 2019, 351 million people of working age had diabetes; this number is expected to rise to over 417 million by 2030.

During the British Science Festival the team talked the audience through an online diabetes risk assessment, which can be found here: https://riskscore.diabetes.org.uk/start.

The British Science Festival is one of Europe’s largest science festivals and regularly attracts hundreds of the UK’s top scientists and speakers to discuss the latest developments in science with the public.

Working in partnership with DMU and other organisations in the Leicester region, the festival entertained an audience of thousands, delivering 100 specially curated events. Find out more here

Posted on Friday 23rd September 2022

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