Joined the programme in 2019

Philadelphia officially joined the Cities Changing Diabetes program in November 2019, becoming the second US city and the 25th city globally to join the network. Through the program, more than 100 health, faith, education, business and community leaders from across the city are working together to develop new ways to change the trajectory of diabetes in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia, United States

Over the past 15 years, the prevalence of diabetes in Philadelphia has increased by 50%1, with 13.5% of the adult population now living with diabetes2. It disproportionately affects those living in poverty and has a greater impact on specific ethnic groups3. Roughly a third of the Philadelphia population lives with obesity4.



The diabetes challenge in Philadelphia



of the adult population is living with diabetes2



residents will have diabetes in 2030, nearly 1 million adults 

Cities Changing Diabetes – Philadelphia integrates community-driven and place-based approaches across multiple sectors to address obesity and diabetes in the city’s vulnerable and underserved communities. The program is overseen by Health Care Improvement Foundation (HCIF), a local non-profit driving superior health care through collaboration and shared learning in support of healthier communities through equitable, accessible, and quality health care. Key activities include:

• Engaging local stakeholders and experts to develop and implement innovative multi-sector, community-driven obesity and diabetes interventions through a three-month online idea generation and proposal development process (the Innovation Challenge). 

• Building the capacity of houses of faith to address diabetes and obesity epidemics in Philadelphia neighbourhoods through the Faith & Diabetes Initiative 

• Introducing place-based interventions to improve local food systems through participation in a comparative foodscape analysis engaging community-based partners 

Cities Changing Diabetes Philadelphia, through a consultative and locally informed process, is committed to an ambitious, place-based and integrated approach to help alleviate the burden of diabetes and obesity in the city’s most vulnerable communities.  The program fosters partnership and collaboration across three key streams of interventions:

Innovation Challenge Projects
In 2020, Philadelphia became the first Cities Changing Diabetes city to launch a virtual platform to engage stakeholders in co-creation of community-driven interventions. Nearly 400 stakeholders participated, submitting 43 new ideas for addressing diabetes and obesity. Promising ideas were identified by a panel of local health care, community and public health experts and five innovative community-based programs were selected to receive preliminary funding. Initiatives focused on uniquely vulnerable populations such as youth, individuals experiencing disability, prison inmates and returning citizens, and Latinos.

Philadelphia’s Faith & Diabetes Initiative
Cities Changing Diabetes’ Faith & Diabetes Initiative is designed to engage and address diabetes awareness, prevention, and management with special attention to religious belief, practice, and community life. Building upon Houston’s model, Cities Changing Diabetes - Philadelphia convenes an interfaith group of clergy and lay leaders to develop diabetes education and awareness programming driven by the needs of their faith communities. Faith & Diabetes participants are provided with resources and technical assistance to implement promising practices and evidence-based programs including lifestyle change initiatives, diabetes awareness campaigns, youth programming, and peer support.

Neighborhood Thrive Initiatives
The food system is a complex network of interconnected people and sectors and the current food system in many parts of country, including Philadelphia, does not work for all communities. Low-income communities and people of color disproportionately experience hunger, lack access to healthy food, and work in a food economy that limits their ability to support their families and build wealth. Using a proven foodscape assessment, Cities Changing Diabetes Philadelphia, is currently developing comprehensive, place-based interventions to address the inequities in local food environments, promoting better access to nutrition for all. The residents of the targeted communities which are population dense, high poverty, and food insecure have been engaged to contribute to the project design and implementation.

“Philadelphia is a city with a rich history, passion and diversity, but also health equity problems. It takes a community to come together around the concept of healthy living. And it takes public and private sectors to impact health and wellness. It takes a team. Cities Changing Diabetes is getting all stakeholders to collaborate as a team.”

— David M Shipon, MD, Director of Preventative Cardiology and Cardiovascular Rehab at Jefferson Health


Thomas Farley. Diabetes Prevalence and Impact on Philadelphia. Vol. 4. Health PDoP; 2019. CHART. July 2019.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data from: PLACES: Local Data for Better Health. 2018.


CHART. Diabetes Prevalence and Impact on Philadelphia. 2019.


Thomas Farley. Diabetes Prevalence and Impact on Philadelphia. Vol. 4. Health PDoP; 2019. CHART. July 2019.