The population in Birmingham is due to increase by 7% to 1.21 million in 2027. The average age is 33 years, younger than the UK average of 40. Whilst the population has more under 30’s than the national average, it is the over 65’s that is set to increase the most over the next 10 years – growing by 17% by 2027. The health of people in Birmingham is generally worse than the England average. Birmingham is one of the 20% most deprived districts/unitary authorities in England and about 27% (67,500) of children live in low-income families. Life expectancy for both men and women is lower than the England average. Male life expectancy varies by nearly 11 years between those living in the least deprived areas of the city and those living in the most deprived.

Birmingham has the highest rate of diabetes in the UK, with nearly one in 10 people in some parts of the city living with disease. 25,2% (3,647) of children (age 10-11) are classified as obese, worse than the average for England and a Diabetes Prevalence Model developed by Public Health England (2016) has estimated that by 2035 based on current population trends, 4.9 million people in the UK will have diabetes.

Air pollution has been identified by Public Health England as the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK. Evidence shows that it can cause or worsen a range of lung and heart conditions including asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic heart disease and stroke. Research suggests air pollution caused by NO2 and PM2.5 could cause 36,000 deaths per year.

Definition of the Birmingham pilot was agreed with Public Health and Environmental teams. The vision being to accelerate the fight against Type 2 Diabetes to address sedentary lifestyle and mobility as key factors to support early prevention; early screening and intervention and better disease control.

The selection criteria of the pilot locations were focused on targeting specific inner-city wards (Sparkbrook, Sparkhill, Small Heath and Bordesley Green) in the locality of the inner ring road (area of high air quality pollution) and in proximity to the Government’s Clean Air Zone. These fall within the 20% most deprived areas and have a high population of people from black, minority and ethnic groups (BME population > 40%) and lower socioeconomic groups where there is a high prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes and are an important target for screening and prevention programmes.  

Local work has shown that people classified within lower social grades and some BMEs are less likely to participate in physical activity and sport.  In addition, research undertaken by Sport England highlighted that the neighbourhoods Sparkbrook (and Sparkhill) have low physical inactivity but are digitally engaged, which supports deployment of technology enabled solutions within these communities to help promote behaviour change. They also fall within areas that have very limited access to leisure / sport facilities given the size of the population and not all are open to the public.

Birmingham’s Air Quality data