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Cities Changing Diabetes

City of Houston and Novo Nordisk Partner Against Urban Diabetes
Houston has become the first U.S. city to join the Cities Changing Diabetes partnership. On November 3rd, the City of Houston and Novo Nordisk announced an innovative partnership to fight the urban diabetes epidemic. Houston is the third city globally to join the Cities Changing Diabetes program, which was initiated earlier in 2014 by Novo Nordisk. The first two cities are Mexico City and Copenhagen.

The Houston Health & Human Services Department and The University of Texas School of Public Health serve as core partners on the project and will lead the initial research for Cities Changing Diabetes in Houston. Other local partners include the Harris County Healthcare Alliance, American Diabetes Association Houston and the Clinton Health Matters Initiative. Globally, the program will be supported by University College London (UCL) and Steno Diabetes Center, Denmark, a world-leading institution in diabetes care and prevention, and Novo Nordisk.

Of the estimated 382 million people worldwide who have diabetes, nearly 2/3 live in urban areas.[1] Globally, those who live in cities are 2 to 5 times more likely to have diabetes.[2] Cities Changing Diabetes is a first-of-its-kind collaboration developed to stem the tide of urban diabetes by providing practical, long-term solutions. The partnership 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.

“Diabetes and obesity pose a significant health threat to our city,’’ said Houston Mayor Annise D. Parker. “Cities Changing Diabetes is a unique opportunity to identify the health strategies that combat diabetes in a way that meet the individual needs of the people of Houston and Harris County. We look forward to collaborating with partners locally and around the world to develop solutions to this global epidemic.’’

The Cities Changing Diabetes program will kick off with a comprehensive analysis of the major gaps and vulnerabilities associated with diabetes. The results will be 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. Initial data on Houston will be available in early 2015.

“The City of Houston is an ideal partner as there is a strong commitment to improving health, which is seen with several strong programs already in existence to combat major health issues such as diabetes,” said Lars Rebien Sørensen, chief executive officer of Novo Nordisk. “It is urgent that policymakers, health authorities, academia, the non-profit sector, and private industry work together to develop solutions to reverse the rise of urban diabetes. We are committed to working with our partners in Houston and around the world to identify solutions and spur concerted action.’’


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 County.[3] Approximately 1 in 10 adults in Houston/Harris County have diabetes.[4]

Obesity is the most common chronic condition in Houston, affecting 32% of adults. [5] Obese men and obese women have a 7- and 12-fold risk, respectively, of developing diabetes.[6]

Recognizing the need for action, Mayor Parker has dedicated significant attention to improving health and wellness in Houston. In 2012, she launched Healthy Houston, an initiative designed to reduce obesity and increase healthy eating and exercise. Healthy Houston promotes programs, policies and actions designed to reduce food deserts, promote the availability of locally-grown foods, encourage the development of sustainable food systems and promote recreational opportunities.

About Cities Changing Diabetes

Cities Changing Diabetes is an ambitious partnership program to fight the urban diabetes challenge. 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.[7]

The aim of Cities Changing Diabetes is to map the problem, share solutions and drive concrete action to fight the diabetes challenge in selected focus cities across the world.

For more information, visit Cities Changing Diabetes. Also, visit Cities Changing Diabetes on Twitter and Facebook.

About Novo Nordisk
Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk is a global healthcare company with more than 90 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care. The company also has leading positions within hemophilia care, growth hormone therapy and hormone replacement therapy. For more information, visit or follow our news in the US on Twitter: @novonordiskus.


[1] IDF Diabetes Atlas. International Diabetes Federation. 2013. 6th edn.

[2] Mbanya JC et al. Diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa. Lancet 2010; 375(9733):2254-2266

[3] The State of Health in Houston/Harris County 2012. Harris County Healthcare Alliance, Houston, Texas.

[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] Health of Houston Survey. HHS 2010 A First Look. Houston, TX: Institute for Health Policy, The University of Texas School of Public Health, 2011.

[6] Guh DP et al. The incidence of comorbidities related to obesity and overweight. BMC Pub Health. 2009; 9:88.

[7] Mbanya JC et al. Diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa. Lancet 2010; 375(9733):2254-2266