World Diabetes Day: Celebrities Living and Thriving with the Disease

Life & Love | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 11/14/2013 | 11:45 AM EST

Today marks World Diabetes Day

Nov.14 is World Diabetes Day, which is a global awareness campaign to bring attention to the disease that affects over 25 million Americans. Diabetes, which is a group of diseases marked by high levels of blood glucose that can lead to serious complications or premature death, is an epidemic that has also increased in its number of proportions. Diabetes is also the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.

Diabetes is so prevalent that many celebrities living with the heredity disease have spoken openly about their diagnosis, many of whom have taken on forms of activism for the cause. Here is a list of celebs not only living with diabetes, but are thriving.

Patti LaBelle - Living legend Patti LaBelle discovered she had diabetes nearly 20 years ago after passing out onstage. Since then, the 69-year-old singer has been a champion for diabetes awareness, starring in commercials and being an advocate for the need for diabetics to change their eating diets. LaBelle, whose mother also died of diabetes complications, has spoken openly about her struggle to eliminate certain foods from her diet like fried chicken and pasta. However, LaBelle has since written five cookbooks with diabetes-friendly recipes. The original diva has since owned her diabetes, even calling it “divabetes.”

Halle Berry - Actress Halle Berry discovered her Type 2 diabetes during a scare in which she collapsed on the set of a filming in 1989. She would later be in a diabetic coma for a week. Berry says she was extremely tired and ignored it thinking she could it tough it out, until her body gave out on her. She’s since eliminated sugary foods from her diet and has even served as a spokesperson for a pharmaceutical company that specializes in making products for diabetes.

Ruben Studdard - While on this season’s The Biggest Loser, former American Idol Ruben Studdard, 35, was shockingly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, giving him all the more reason to change his diet and shed some pounds off 462-pound frame. The singer known as the “Velvet Teddy Bear” has since lost more than 100 pounds, and is working to keep off the weight so that he can live a long and thriving life.

Randy Jackson - Musician and producer Randy Jackson has been very vocal about his struggle with diabetes, even admitting that his emotional addiction to unhealthy foods. "When I found out that I had type 2 diabetes, I was like, 'Wow,' I have a serious disease. It not only had a physical, but also an emotional impact on me," he told the National Institutes of Health magazine. "It was hard to change my eating habits because food for me is emotional—I often found comfort in eating food that happened to be unhealthy." Jackson also got gastric bypass surgery to help lose weight to control his health and his diabetes. "Today, I know that regular checkups with a doctor, healthy food choices, and an active lifestyle are extremely important for managing type 2 diabetes,” he said. “There is no magic cure, and it's not always easy. But I believe everyone has the potential to take charge and manage the disease in his or her own way.”

Sherri Shepherd - Comedian and talk show host Sherri Shepherd says discovering her diabetes saved her life. "If I didn't have diabetes, I would probably be at the International House of Pancakes eating a stack of pancakes with butter and syrup," Shepherd told USA Today. "I would probably be 250 pounds. I would not be going to the doctor. I probably wouldn't be married to my husband, Lamar Sally. I wouldn't be healthy for my son, Jeffrey." The 46-year-old has lost 40 pounds over the years, is eating healthier and exercising regularly. Shepherd also wrote a book called, Plan D: How to Lose Weight and Beat Diabetes.

For more information on diabetes and prevention, visit www.ndep.nih.gov.

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