The Cities Changing Diabetes research findings are a key component in the fight against diabetes, as they will largely inform all efforts aimed at decreasing the burden of non-communicable or chronic diseases caused by poor lifestyle choices in the city of Jo'burg.

Cllr Mpho Phalatse, MC for Health and Social Development, Johannesburg

Nonceba Molwele




Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa, and the second largest in Africa1



The average commute in Johannesburg is 45 minutes2


Johannesburg has the world’s biggest man-made forest, with over 10 million trees.3

The diabetes challenge in Johannesburg

Fast-paced urbanisation over the last two decades has made Johannesburg a vibrant and diverse city, yet it has also fuelled several major challenges. Lack of housing, inner city decay, high unemployment, crime and inadequate health provisions have all combined to create an environment conducive to NCDs such as type 2 diabetes. 

Reducing obesity: an opportunity for change in Johannesburg

Without action, the increase of adult obesity in Johannesburg will continue along current trends. However, if weight distribution were to remain at 2017 levels and we could reduce the rate of obesity by 25%, Johannesburg would see 205,000 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes and save 157 million dollars in healthcare expenditure by 2045.4



In 2016 Johannesburg became the first African city to participate in Cities Changing Diabetes. Using experienced, retired nurses to conduct research, the city was able to highlight the burden of diabetes as well as its comorbidities, such as obesity, high blood pressure and dyslipidaemia, in the public health sector. This research is being used to inform health-promoting policies and a range of awareness activities.

Johannesburg's partners


1. Statistics South Africa, City of Johannesburg, Key Statistics 2011;



4. Cities Changing Diabetes. Diabetes Projection Model, Johannesburg. Data on file. Novo Nordisk. In: Incentive, ed. Holte, Denmark. 2017.