Joined the programme in 2018

Overcrowding, inadequate city planning and an economic crisis put the residents of Beirut at higher risk of developing lifestyle diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. Cities Changing Diabetes in Beirut is determined to bend the curve on diabetes by working with the local government, creating public awareness, and initiating projects to improve public spaces.

Approximately 88% of the country’s six million residents live in urban areas that are densely populated and poorly planned, and 93% of adults with diabetes live in urban areas.1

Lebanon is host to approximately 1.5 million refugees from Syria, and more than 210,000 other refugees, which has driven rapid national population growth in recent years.2 A severe economic crisis since 2019 has led to the displacement of many people within the country and has contributed to the unstructured expansion of urban areas. Beirut suffered a devastating explosion at its port in 2020 which exacerbated the city’s challenges.

These conditions have increased the vulnerability of city residents to developing obesity and type 2 diabetes. Almost half (42%) of the adults in Beirut are living with overweight and obesity, and two in every five adults are at high risk of developing diabetes.3

Key facts and figures



adults in Beirut are at high risk of developing diabetes2



of adults in Beirut are living with overweight and obesity2



of adults in Beirut are physically inactive2

The economic crisis, the impact of the 2020 explosion and the COVID-19 pandemic meant that the Cities Changing Diabetes programme in Beirut has had to put many of its activities on hold. Despite these challenges, Cities Changing Diabetes still works with authorities to help put type 2 diabetes and obesity on the national agenda during the crises.  In addition, Cities Changing Diabetes in Beirut has been involved in a project to renovate St Nicolas’ Garden in Ashrafiyeh to make physical activity more accessible and appealing.

Download Beirut fact sheet


International Diabetes Federation (IDF). IDF Diabetes Atlas 8th edition. 2017:905-911.


Isma'eel HA, Almedawar MM, Breidy J, et al. Worsening of the Cardiovascular Profile in a Developing Country: The Greater Beirut Area Cardiovascular Cohort. Glob Heart. 2018:1–9e


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