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 United States.
Diabetes is so prevalent that many celebrities living with the heredity disease have spoken openly about their diagnosis, while others were simply affected by someone they love who is living with the disease. Many have even taken on forms of activism to help raise awareness. In honor of World Diabetes Day and the millions of people with it, take a look at Centric’s list of celebs who are living and thriving with diabetes or doing their part to spread information about its health consequences.
Tamela Mann - Actress and “Take Me To The King” songstress turned heads when she lost over 100 pounds. What many may not know is that her husband
David Mann’s diagnosis with Type 2 diabetes was a contributing factor in her decision to take her family’s health more seriously. The Mann’s decided to make exercising and eating right a family affair. “For many African American families, a lot of the time when we sit down to dinner, we can have two or three starches in one meal,” Tamela said in an interview, according to BlackDoctor.org. “You can still have some, but you don’t have to have as many.”
Debbie Allen - Famed dance choreographer lost her father to Type 2 diabetes in 1984. The tragic loss inspired the “A Different World” producer-director to launch a dance video campaign called T2 Dance Crew. Dance moves are geared toward getting people off their couch, and ultimately adopting a more active lifestyle. “Celebrity is not just good for having your face on cover of magazine, it’s a responsibility and if you can help the public, you should stand up and fight the good fight,” the former American Heart Association spokesperson said in a 2011 interview.
Patti LaBelle - Living legend Patti LaBelle discovered she had diabetes 20 years ago after passing out onstage. Since then, the 70-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 “diabetes.”
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.
Usher - The “Good Kisser” crooner shocked fans when he announced that his son has Type I diabetes. It has definitely been a difficult one for me," the singer said in an interview with the “Today” show. "Sometimes y'all look at me and we're off camera, and I'm looking online, I'm looking at numbers and trying to make sure that he's eating. It's crazy." But Type I diabetes occurs primarily among children and young adults. Previously known as juvenile diabetes, Type I diabetes, which is considered uncommon, is an immune disease the body does not produce insulin. Only 5 percent of people with diabetes have this form of the disease.
Chaka Khan - Who can forget the amazing body transformation of the legendary Chaka Khan? Part of her lifestyle change, which includes going vegan, stemmed from being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and high-blood pressure. "What I did was stopped eating and went on a strict unconditional liquid fast for a couple of months," the 61-year-old singer said in an interview back in 2011. "And went off meat, became vegan, stopped all the dairy, stopped all the meat. It sort of changed my whole way of thinking. You have to get the mindset first."
Ruben Studdard - While on this season’s The Biggest Loser, former American Idol Ruben Studdard, 36, 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 Healthmagazine. "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 47-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.
(Photos from left: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images, Michael Buckner/Getty Images for BET, Mark Davis/Getty Images, Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Super Bowl)