Diabetes is rising at an alarming rate around the world. Today, approximately 537 million adults in the world are living with diabetes – a figure that is projected to rise to 783 million by 2045 if no action is taken.In 2021, diabetes was responsible for 6.7 million deaths and caused at least USD 966 billion dollars in health expenditure.2

Given the enormous human and economic cost that diabetes and its complications have on individuals, communities and society, this trajectory is unsustainable.

Cities are where more than half of the world’s population lives3 and where three out of four people with diabetes reside4

Urban environments significantly impact how people live, travel, play, work and eat – factors that, in combination, affect the rise in type 2 diabetes. Although cities are engines of economic growth and innovation, some of the drivers of their prosperity also lead to health inequity. This means that some people have fewer opportunities to make healthy choices than others and vulnerable groups are more likely to be affected by disease. 

We have to target our efforts where the greatest change can happen – and that is in the world’s cities.

Prevention is fundamental to bending the curve on type 2 diabetes. We will only be able to halt the rising incidence and prevalence of type 2 diabetes if action on obesity is prioritised.5

The Diabetes Projection Model plots the trajectory of diabetes prevalence over time (figure 1).6 It shows that bending the curve on the global diabetes prevalence at 10.0% would require the global prevalence of obesity to be reduced by 25.0% by 2045. 

Learn about how Cities Changing Diabetes is committed to driving action against type 2 diabetes and obesity in cities globally.


IDF Diabetes Atlas 10th edition


IDF Diabetes Atlas 10th edition


United Nations Department of Economic Social Affairs Population Division (UNDESA). World Urbanization Prospects: The 2019 Revision. 2019


International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas, 9 ed. Brussels, Belgium: International Diabetes Federation;2019


Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes: a Joint Approach to Halt the Rise. A Policy Brief by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Obesity Federation (2022)


Cities Changing Diabetes. Bending the curve on urban diabetes – New research approaches and innovative interventions for tackling diabetes in your city. Denmark: Cities Changing Diabetes;2017. http://www.citieschangingdiabetes.com/content/dam/cities-changing-diabetes/magazines/CCD-BriefingBook-2017-BendTheCurveOnUrbanDiabetes.pdf. Published 2017. Accessed 2021.