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Cities Changing Diabetes

By 2035, it is estimated that more than half a billion people will have diabetes. Today, nearly two-thirds of all people with diabetes live in cities, and people who move to cities have a significantly higher risk of developing diabetes than those who remain in rural settings.1

Houston began its journey to improve diabetes prevention, detection, care and management in November 2014 through the Cities Changing Diabetes initiative. With the shared goal of tackling the city’s diabetes epidemic, many of the Houston’s organizations have come together to explore diabetes through multiple lenses with a focus on the assets, priorities, and opportunities. Through leadership and collaboration, these stakeholders are working to create a new and healthier future for people in Houston with diabetes or at risk for developing the disease.

Urban Diabetes

Cities Changing Diabetes is a first-of-its-kind initiative developed to stem the tide of urban diabetes by providing practical, long-term solutions by drawing on academic, clinical government expertise in cities throughout the world. It aims to tackle the challenge by first understanding the driving factors behind the rise in diabetes in cities and use that knowledge to share concrete, real-world solutions. There are currently 5 cities engaged in the program: Mexico City, Copenhagen, Houston, Tianjin and Shanghai. Houston is the only U.S. city involved in the initiative.

The Cities Changing Diabetes program in Houston kicked off with a comprehensive analysis of the major gaps and vulnerabilities associated with diabetes. The results are being used in collaboration with local stakeholders to identify efforts that will have the greatest impact on prevention and management of diabetes. The best practices will then be shared with cities around the world.

Since its launch, Cities Changing Diabetes-Houston has been distinguished by:

  • Identifying profiles of Houstonians at high risk for prediabetes and conducting 125 two-hour interviews to understand the vulnerabilities that contribute to their risk;
  • Building a top notch steering committee that includes Houston’s Department of Health and Human Services; Houston ADA and Houston Business Coalition on Health; and
  • Holding 11 roundtables and 1:1 meetings with more than 175 stakeholders including health care providers; employers; hospitals and clinics; insurers and health plans; and faith- and community-based organizations to provide a better understanding of the resources and gaps in Houston when it comes to addressing diabetes


Diabetes in Houston

Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States. There are 2.1 million people living in Houston and 4.3 million in Harris County2. Approximately 1 in 10 adults in Houston/Harris County have diabetes.3

Obesity is the most common chronic condition in Houston, affecting 32% of adults.4 Obese men and obese women have a 7- and 12-fold risk, respectively, of developing diabetes.5

For more information about the Cities Changing Diabetes program globally, and to learn more about what each of the participating cities are doing to defeat #UrbanDiabetes, visit CitiesChangingDiabetes.com.

  1. Mbanya JC et al. Diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa. Lancet 2010; 375(9733):2254-2266
  2. The State of Health in Houston/Harris County 2012. Harris County Healthcare Alliance, Houston, Texas.
  3. Health of Houston Survey. HHS 2010 A First Look. Houston, TX: Institute for Health Policy, The University of Texas School of Public Health, 2011.
  4. Health of Houston Survey. HHS 2010 A First Look. Houston, TX: Institute for Health Policy, The University of Texas School of Public Health, 2011.
  5. Guh DP et al. The incidence of comorbidities related to obesity and overweight. BMC Pub Health. 2009; 9:88.