Famous People Living With Diabetes

Diabetes is fast becoming a global health scare than merely a disease, given the astounding rate at which it is affecting world populace. Only in America, the number

of people diagnosed with diabetes per year has reached 1.5 million. As per the statistics from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention Trusted Score, over 30 million Americans currently are diabetic, and out of them 90-05% suffer from Type-2 Diabetes.

Typically, people above 45-years of age are at the risk of developing type-2 diabetes, however, in recent years there has been an unprecedented increase in the number of children, teenagers, and young adults developing this illness.

This is certainly an alarming situation given the seriousness of health risks associated with diabetes. However, it definitely isn’t the end of the road. With appropriate dietary choices, healthy lifestyle, proper treatment, and strong support from family and friends, one can easily manage diabetes and live normally.

Many regard managing diabetes through medication and lifestyle changes as a myth, but there are many examples of famous people successfully achieving this balance. Let’s check out what some of the celebrities have to say about managing type-1 or type-2 diabetes.

Tom Hanks

On David Letterman’s show aired in October 2013, the Oscar winner revealed that he was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes in his late 30s. When Letterman commented on Hank’s astounding weight loss, he said that it was a part and parcel of life with type-2 diabetes. Since the age of 36 his blood sugar levels remained high and one day his doctor told him that he has developed diabetes. Since then he has been trying to manage it.

Joking about his weight loss, Hanks commented that diabetes may help him become as skinny as he used to be in high school. He weighed 96 pounds only, Hanks told the audience.

Halle Berry

Halle Berry is another Oscar-winning American actress who is dealing with type-2 diabetes. In 1989 she passed out on the sets of her TV show Living Dolls and remained unconscious for seven consecutive days. When she woke up, her doctor told her that she had type-2 diabetes because of a genetic disposition. Berry, however, took it as an opportunity to transform her lifestyle for the better.

In 2005, she told The Daily Mail, that instead of getting depressed, she started considering diabetes as a gift. It made her a stronger person as she underwent dramatic lifestyle changes. Her diet became healthier with inclusion of poultry, fresh veggies, and pasta and omission of red meat and some fruits. She even started practicing Yoga and hired a personal trainer to maintain healthy insulin levels.

Sharon Stone

Sharon Stone is one actress who has always remained fit and healthy; therefore, many were surprised to know that the 61-year old actress had Type-1 diabetes. How did she manage to remain this fit and stay in shape while dealing with the disease? Sharon told “E! News” that she deliberately never discussed it before, but believed that the time has come to tell the world that life with diabetes doesn’t necessarily has to be highly demanding.

All you need to do is follow a strict diet plan and do all the right things such as eat healthy, sleep early, work out regularly, and be happy, added Stone. 

Nick Jonas

Nick Jonas has gained relevance in the music industry within such little time. No wonder, people want to know more about him. But, the news that he had Type-1 diabetes took his fans by surprise. After all, he looks so energetic on the stage, how does he manage to be so active? The singer revealed it all in an interview in 2007, explaining he was suspicious about his health when he started feeling thirstier and lost a lot of weight.

He was hospitalized because his blood sugar level was over 700 (normal range is 70-120), and that’s when he learned that he has type-1 diabetes, aka juvenile diabetes,  which he has been successfully managing ever since. It is called juvenile diabetes because it mainly affects people under 20, but it doesn’t mean that older people cannot get it.

Gabourey Sidibe

When Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidbie was diagnosed with diabetes, she decided it was time to implement serious lifestyle changes and take charge of her life. She started by trying to lose weight naturally. But, even after a decade, she couldn’t lose much. That’s when the Precious star decided to go under the knife. Losing weight was her priority because being diabetic and overweight was a deadly combo, and she didn’t want more complications.

In 2016, the Brooklyn-born actress had bariatric surgery and has been making positive lifestyle changes since then. She works out regularly, and has hired a nutritionist to help her stay fit and stress-free.

Vanessa Williams

An unlikely name in the list, Vanessa Williams is also one of the celebrities who are suffering from diabetes but maintaining a healthy lifestyle successfully. The hugely popular chanteuse has type-1 diabetes and she has happily accepted it as a reality of her life. In an interview with Essence, Williams revealed that she is happy with the way her life has shaped up so far and is looking forward to what future has in store for her.

Not only does Williams is managing her life with diabetes but she is also supporting many charities for diabetes research….. way to go Vanessa.

George Lucas

George Lucas, who rose to new heights of fame with his worldwide famous movie franchise Star Wars, found out that he has developed Type-2 diabetes coincidentally. The Star Wars creator was getting his routine checkup done while going through his draft of the Vietnam War when he learned about the disease.

It wasn’t because of his lifestyle though because as per the assessment of Diabetes UK he has inherited it from his paternal grandfather.

Salma Hayek

Salma Hayek wasn’t surprised when she learned that she had gestational diabetes because of her family history of diabetes. At that time she was pregnant with her daughter Valentina. Doctors recommend that pregnant women must get themselves checked for gestational diabetes during 24-28 weeks and those at risk of developing type-2 diabetes should get it checked on their first prenatal visit.

The issue with gestational diabetes is that although it goes away soon after the delivery but may return with the next pregnancy and makes one vulnerable to developing type-2 diabetes later in life.

Larry King

The iconic talk show host Larry King also has type-2 diabetes, but he controls it successfully. He knew that diabetes alone can make one susceptible to a variety of serious health conditions including cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and kidney disease. On his show, King revealed that he was initially very stressed because he already has underwent heart bypass surgery and was a heavy smoker too, something that directly affects the heart.

But, he didn’t find life with diabetes as difficult as it is commonly perceived. He had to take some very difficult decisions though, such as changing his lifestyle of years and quitting smoking. But, it is definitely worth it, King exclaimed.

Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan has been a patient of depression and claims that it was his diagnosis of diabetes that snapped him out of that depressive phase of life. Where many would have sleepless nights after finding out that they have diabetes, Chaka khan took her diagnosis of type-2 diabetes positively. In an interview she revealed that she found it hard to cope after a bad break up but when she knew about her diabetes, she decided to fix her lifestyle.

It was like a whole new beginning for her as she decided that he cannot live life feeling scared of the harms diabetes can cause.

Paula Deen

In January 2012, the celebrity chef made it public that she has developed type-2 diabetes. Famous all over the world for her sugary and buttery recipes, Deen claims that she learned about the disease a lot earlier but didn’t want to publicly disclose it because she wasn’t ready and wanted to take control of the situation first.

Now that she has become an example of how to successfully and proactively manage life with diabetes she decided to tell the world that diabetes is not the end of life. It is just a new beginning where you are forced to love yourself and do everything to enjoy a healthy life.

Delta Burke

The Emmy awards nominee has had a very tough time dealing with weight gain. This, believes Burke, might be the reason behind development of type-2 diabetes. However, she was able to control it with the help of her doctor, trainer, and nutritionist. She started taking a healthy diet, took her medication timely, and made it compulsory to go for a walk daily. She also managed to lose weight with these changes.

While speaking with Diabetic Living, Burke stated that it isn’t easy to control diabetes as you have to keep track of so many things, undergo tedious research and stay persistent in following an overall healthy routine. But, it definitely is doable.

Drew Carey

The famous game show host and sitcom star struggled to lose weight. But, when he was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, it was time for him to make some very necessary and productive lifestyle changes. He was tired of the many health issues he was already facing and diabetes just gave him the motivation to fix it all.

Hence, he reduced carbs from his diet and started frequenting the gym. Very soon, he lost 80 pounds and hasn’t been taking any diabetes medication since then. 

Sherri Shepherd

Sherri Shepherd, a widely known actress and former co-host of TV show The View, said that dealing with diabetes hasn’t been a smooth ride for her. Even after getting diagnosed, she struggled with changing her dietary habits. Switching from cheesy pasta to par-boiled vegetables and sugar-free oatmeal seemed a daunting task.

Eventually, she managed to successfully make this transition and went on to eliminate white bread and fried foods entirely from her diet. She says that the winning combo of exercise and healthy diet helped her control diabetes and lose weight naturally.

Randy Jackson

In 2001, Jackson was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. Back then, the ex-American Idol judge was obese, and having a family history of diabetes made diabetes twice more likely for him. Research suggests that African-Americans are more at-risk of developing diabetes than whites.

However, not ready to give in to the illness, Jackson managed to lose 100 pounds, underwent gastric bypass surgery, and made necessary dietary and lifestyle changes to stay healthy. Treadmill and Yoga became integral part of his day, and he certainly has inspired many diabetics to turn things around for the better.

Lea DeLaria

The Orange is the New Black actress was diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes. She immediately switched to a brand new diet plan and lost 50 pounds. While giving an interview to People in 2015, DeLaria shared that her doctor gave her two options- eat potatoes or drink beer. She chose the latter and is happy with the results.

James Earl Jones

The legendary actor discovered he had type-2 diabetes when he started feeling a lot more lethargic on a daily basis for no apparent reason. For him, work was life; even after so many years he could handle eight shows per week and was ever ready for long movie/TV schedules. One day while he was at the gym, he fell asleep on a bench. That’s when he learned that he had diabetes.

Taking full responsibility of the condition he decided to switch to healthy eating. He gives all the credit of his successful transformation to his family. 

Jean Smart

We all know Jean Smart for her role in the hit TV series Designing Women and Thriller 24. She has starred in many television shows and movies, and has had a good run at the entertainment industry. Smart, in one of her interviews, revealed that she was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes at the age of 13.

Understandably, it took her some time to adjust to the new lifestyle but she did manage to accomplish it and have a successful acting career despite the condition. Today, she serves as a fundraiser, activist and mentor to help people fight type-1 diabetes.

S. Epatha Merkerson

Who wouldn’t remember Lt. Van Buren from the hit TV series Law & Order or Sharon Goodwin from Chicago Med? The Emmy winner is not just a diabetic but also an active advocate motivating people to attain their A1c goals. Despite being at-risk of developing type-2 diabetes given her family history, she was shocked with the diagnosis.

In 2016, she told USA Today that her diagnosis served as a wake-up call for her; she decided to make serious changes to her diet and lifestyle. To control diabetes and stay healthy she switched to a nutritious diet and brisk walking.

Billie Jean King

For an athlete like Billie Jean King, healthy diet and regular exercise is part of the daily routine. But, for King the diagnosis of type-2 diabetes in 2007 was the moment that completely transformed her life.

She took healthy lifestyle to a whole new level by incorporating serious dietary changes. Reducing sugars and carbs was difficult initially but she found this change rather productive later on. King told Ladies’ Home Journal that living a fun-filled, active, and NORMAL life was possible with diabetes.

Jay Cutler

In 2008, Jay Cutler suspected something was wrong as he had lost 35 pounds and frequently felt sluggish and lazy. Cutler was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes. Soon after learning about it, the Chicago Bears quarterback immediately made necessary dietary changes.

Ever since that day he was diagnosed with diabetes, he has managed to stay positive and optimistic. Using an insulin pump and blood sugar tracker, he is able to control diabetes and perform all of his day-to-day activities normally.

Sonia Sotomayor

Sonia Sotomayor, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, noticed symptoms of type-1 diabetes at just the age of seven and was soon diagnosed with the condition. However, Sotomayor regards the early diagnose as a blessing in disguise because she was able to adjust to the long-term lifestyle changes that she had to make. She knew that diabetes was an indispensable part of her life; hence, she learned to multitask.

In 2011, while talking to the Children’s Congress of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Sotomayor stated that diabetes has never come in the way of materializing her dreams as she was able to secure her dream job.

Bret Michaels

The lead singer of Poison was diagnosed with diabetes at the tender age of six but he managed to become a world famous rock star. His journey, however, hasn’t been as smooth because he had to deal with serious health issues since 2010 including a brain hemorrhage.

To control his diabetes he takes insulin injections every day. His stardom reached new heights of fame when he won The Celebrity Apprentice, and announced to give the $250,000 prize money to the American Diabetes Association.

Patti LaBelle

LaBelle was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes after she passed out on stage. She was informed by the doctor right there and then that she is diabetic. On her website, the singer shared her experience after learning about it. She wasn’t surprised though because of having a family history of diabetes and learned to make necessary adjustments to control it. In an interview to People in December 2008, she called herself as a divabetic (a combination of diva and diabetic).

LaBelle has written many cookbooks on healthy meals. She says that to deal with diabetes one has to make exercise an integral part of routine just like she has done.

Dorian Gregory

The renowned actor from TV shows Charmed and Baywatch Nights, and host of the long-running show Soul Train has a family history of diabetes. It, therefore, wasn’t surprising that he was diagnosed with it at the age of 9. Speaking with dLife, Gregory advised that diabetics must make productive changes in their lives to manage it. Such as, taking medicine on time and if someone is forgetful, it is better to set an alarm.

He believes food, exercise, and stress management are also part of a diabetic’s prescription not just the medication. Therefore, one must never compromise upon any of these factors to enjoy healthy living.

Anne Rice

Anne Rice, the author of widely acclaimed Interview with the Vampire, has had a bittersweet experience with diabetes. She was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes very late, which almost put her life in danger. But, she has been a fighter all along.

When Health Monitor asked how she was coping with diabetes, she explained that the journey hasn’t been easy as she had to make drastic changes in her diet, such as taking smaller meals, increasing protein and reducing carbs, etc. She believes that this is her second life and she doesn’t want to take anything for granted.

Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee was quite overweight, so much that the press gave him the nickname Wide-Body. He was the governor of Arkansas when he was diagnosed with diabetes in 2003. The former Fox New host learned about the disease when one morning he woke up with a tingly and numb arm. People reported that soon after the death of his close friend and ex-governor Frank White, Huckabee got the wakeup call and decided to take charge of his health.

In 2004, he made headlines for losing 105 pounds and decreased calories intake from 3000 calories/day to just 1,600. By 2006, Huckabee had participated in several marathons. Today, he claims to have reversed all the nasty symptoms of diabetes with sheer perseverance and determination.

Theresa May

Theresa May, the former prime minister of Britain, is also a diabetic. Diagnosed with type-1 diabetes, she managed to achieve so much in her life and always remained proactive in performing her duties. After all, being the premier of one of the world’s superpowers is not an easy job.

May has to take around five doses of insulin in a day. In 2017, she gave an interview to Facebook Live where she revealed that despite the ups and downs, she has never let diabetes affect her life be it personal or professional.

Mary Tyler Moore

At the age of 30, the late Mary Moore was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes. She was hospitalized after suffering a miscarriage and the blood test showed blood sugar level of 750, which is quite high. That’s when she learned about her condition. In an interview to Larry King Live in 2005, Moore shared her story and told that she was immediately put on insulin at the hospital.

From there onwards she dedicated her life towards promotion of diabetes research. She served as the international chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (a research institute dedicated to finding better treatment measures and cure for type-1 diabetes) until her death on January 25, 2017.

Crystal Bowersox

We know Crystal Bowersox as the runner-up of American Idol 2010, but what many doesn’t know is that she was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of six. Her condition made headlines when she went into diabetic ketoacidosis during the contest and the show’s executive produce Ken Warwickk asked her to quit. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a chronic health condition that may cause death or coma to the individual.Tests revealed that Bowersox’s pH levels were so low that doctors believed she will go into coma. However, she refused to leave the show. In an interview to the website Diabetes Mine, Bowersox stated that she begged Warwickk to let her be on the show as she didn’t want to let go of the opportunity because of diabetes.

Nowadays, she is using her fame to spread awareness about diabetes and is an active advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Penny Marshall

Remember Laverne from the 70s classic TV show Laverne & Shirley? The character was played by Penny Marshall who lost her battle with diabetes in 2018 when she was 75. Marshall, a Bronx native, was a celebrated movie director. Her movie Big (1988) grossed over $100 million making her the first women director to achieve this milestone. A League of Their Own (1992) garnered as much success and helped her establish herself as one of the best female directors in Hollywood.

David “Boomer” Wells

Wells is most famous for pitching the 15th perfect game in the history of baseball. The former Major League Baseball pitcher was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes in 2007. He made changes as soon as he learned about his condition and completely eliminated sugary, starchy, and fried food from his diet. This meant, leaving out potatoes, rice, pasta, and white bread. He even stopped drinking alcohol. He once told ABC news that he strictly follows his new diet plan and drinks wine only occasionally because he wants to live a long and healthy life.

Earl “The Pearl” Monroe

The now retired Basketball player Earl Monroe was 50 when he discovered that he had type-2 diabetes. However, being a professional athlete he found it easier to overcome the stress and immediately incorporated favorable changes in his diet. Already a fitness buff, Monroe (aka The Pearl) adjusted smoothly to life with diabetes and never let it affect his career. One advice he gives to diabetics quite often is to stop feeling that they are any different from others because everyone has to deal with their own demons.

Paul Sorvino

In 2006, when Sorvino was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes his main concern was how he will survive without carbs (read pasta). The Italian-American actor although never missed his medication but didn’t pay much attention to required dietary changes, which worsened his condition. Realizing his mistake, he decided to adopt a brand new diet plan with the help and support of his celebrity daughter Mira Sorvino.

She helped him find the right balance between diet and exercise to cope with diabetes. Interestingly, Sorvino still loves pasta but now he only eats healthier, low-carb version. He has also reduced sugar to a great extent. The father-daughter duo have collaborated with diabetes support groups in running a Sanofi-Aventis sponsored awareness campaign called Diabetes Co-Stars.

Dick Clark

Dick Clark was 64 when he publicly disclosed about his diagnosis, exactly ten years after discovering that he suffered from Type-2 diabetes. He wanted to create awareness among diabetics about the importance of self-care and motivate people to consult an advisor to control diabetes and stay healthy. In 2004, Clark suffered a serious heart attack and managed to recover, which made him a symbol of hope for many victims of stroke. Clark had another heart attack in 2012 but couldn’t survive and died while receiving medical help.

Jerry Mathers

The Leave it to Beaver fame actor Jerry Mathers was happily involved into his catering business but his life took an unlikely turn when in 1997 he was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. Not just that, he also suffered from high blood pressure and bad cholesterol. At the time, the doctor told him clearly that he had only 3 to 5 years to live unless he focuses on improving his health. Mathers told Fox News in 2017 that he has been following his doctor’s advice ever since and made healthy diet and exercise a mandatory part of his life.

Damon Dash

Damon Dash is a popular personality of the entertainment industry as he is the co-founder and ex-CEO of Roc-A-Fella Records. People know a lot about him, but nobody knows about his diagnosis of type-1 diabetes, perhaps, because he chose not to disclose it. In an interview to CNN, the music industry maestro and entrepreneur stated that although not many people know that he has diabetes but he believes that it is important to let them know to impart the message that it is OK to be a diabetic. He refers to himself as a Diabetes OG because he and diabetes have been indispensable for so long.

Casey Johnson

Casey Johnson, the sole heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, was died on 4 January, 2010 because of diabetes. The 30-year Old’s body was found at her home and investigation revealed that the cause of death was diabetes induced ketoacidosis. Reportedly, she was struggling to control her diabetes lately, and was hospitalized twice for not following insulin dose properly.

However, this wasn’t the case always and the socialite was mindful of her illness in the beginning. She even co-authored a book on diabetes with her father Robert Johnson, titled Managing Your Child’s Diabetes (1994). Her father wanted to find a cure for the illness with his daughter. Now that she is no more, he is still trying to do so while serving as the chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation as a token of remembrance to his daughter.

Gary Hall, Jr.

Gary Hall Jr. discovered that he was suffering from type-1 diabetes in 2000. His doctor told him that he can never compete at the Olympics. However, the Olympic swimmer proved everyone wrong and won his first individual gold medal in a 50-meter freestyle race the same year. He is no less than a hero for diabetics as he didn’t get demotivated or hopeless upon discovering that he was a diabetic but made it his strength to achieve his dreams.

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