Type 2 diabetes usually develops in people over the age of 45, though there has been an increase in recent years of the disease developing in children, teens, and young adults.
Although type 2 diabetes comes with serious health risks, it’s often highly manageable through diet, medications, healthy lifestyle habits, and strong friends and family support systems.
Here is a list of 10 celebrities with type 2 diabetes who continue to live or have lived exciting, healthy, and fulfilling lives.
1. Larry King
American television and radio host Larry King was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1995, eight years after surviving bypass surgery from a heart attack. Since his diagnosis, he’s lost considerable weight, quit smoking, and developed an all-around healthier lifestyle.
“Good food, exercise, and meds,” he told Health Monitor in 2013. “Three rules, and none of them are hard.”
His three rules involve eating what you love, keeping exercise fun, such as dancing, and being an exemplary patient.
“Once you have diabetes, knowledge is a great protector,” he added. “Good information is readily available. Take advantage of that. The more you know, the better off you are.”
2. Halle Berry
Type 2 diabetes can take years to develop before showing any serious symptoms. In 1989, after feeling fatigued, this Academy Award–winning American actress passed out while working on the TV show “Living Dolls” and didn’t wake up for seven days. She was then diagnosed with type 2 diabetes due to a genetic predisposition.
As soon as she returned from the hospital, Berry dramatically changed her diet to one that includes fresh vegetables, chicken, fish, and pasta, and omits red meat and most fruit. She also hired a personal trainer and practices yoga to keep active to maintain healthy blood and insulin levels.
“Diabetes turned out to be a gift,” she told The Daily Mail in 2005. “It gave me strength and toughness because I had to face reality, no matter how uncomfortable or painful it was.”
3. Randy Jackson
This musician, producer, and judge on “American Idol” was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in his mid-40s, which came to him as a total surprise.
“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,” Jackson told NIH Medicine Plus in 2008. “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 and his doctor developed a plan involving a special diet and exercise regimen that would control his blood sugar levels, in addition to gastric bypass surgery in 2004, which helped him lose over 100 pounds.
Today, he believes that he is living proof that type 2 diabetes can be managed, and that taking charge of his health has made him a stronger, happier person.
4. Tom Hanks
Academy Award–winning actor Tom Hanks first revealed his diagnosis on “The Late Show” with David Letterman in 2013:
“I went to the doctor, and he said, ‘You know those high blood sugar numbers you’ve been dealing with since you were 36? Well, you’ve graduated! You’ve got type 2 diabetes, young man.”
Hanks went on to joke about how he first thought removing the buns off of his cheeseburgers would be a solution, but quickly realized it would take more work than that.
5. Sherri Shephard
Comedian and co-host on ABC’s “The View,” Shephard was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2007, years after continuing to ignore her doctor’s warnings that she had prediabetes.
At first, she took three different medications to control her diabetes, but after controlling her diet, losing weight, and creating a regular exercise regimen, she was able to control her blood sugar naturally, without medication.
When asked by U.S. News how she squeezed exercise into her daily routine, Shephard responded:
“I have to make my house a mini gym. If I’m doing laundry, I do lunges to the laundry room, and if my husband is cooking and I’m just sitting in the kitchen talking, I do push-ups against the counter top. When we go to the park with my son, we do side shuffles, lunges, and races, and we climb up the monkey bars. If you look at him, he looks like he’s having fun — and mommy looks like she’s about to pass out.”
Shephard even went on to write a book about living with diabetes, called “Plan D: How to Lose Weight and Beat Diabetes (Even if You Don’t Have It).”
“My book is fun because I like to laugh. I don’t like a lot of medical jargon. You can laugh at my journey and all the crazy things I do, like going in the garbage and eating food — and I’ve done that. After I’ve thrown coffee grinds it, and at 2 a.m., when that Oreo cookie is calling my name. It’s OK. You’ve got to be forgiving. Don’t be paralyzed, and you can live an amazing life.”
6. Patti LaBelle
This two-time Grammy-winning American singer, actress, and author first became aware of her type 2 diabetes after passing out on stage during a performance. Although her mother, grandmother, and aunt all died from type 2 diabetes, LaBelle hadn’t experienced any previous symptoms, so she’d continued to eat unhealthily for most of her life.
It took a lot of hard work, but she’s managed to adopt healthy eating and daily exercise habits, going so far as to write her own cookbook, “Patti LaBelle’s Lite Cuisine,” and is also now a spokesperson for both the American Diabetes Association and Glucerna’s Diabetes Freedom Campaign.
“Before, my body was just a body,” she told Diabetic Living. I was always worried about my hair, my makeup, and my clothes. If you have all that going for you and the inside is breaking down, what good is that? Today, my body means the world to me — those other things are secondary. The most important thing now is my body on the inside, not the outside. My body is a temple, not an amusement park!”
7. Drew Carey
In less than a year after his diagnosis, American television actor and host best known for “The Drew Carey Show” and “The Price is Right” lost 80 pounds and cured himself of all diabetes symptoms, he told People magazine in 2010. The secret? No carbs.
“I have cheated a couple times,” he said. “But basically no carbs, not even a cracker. No bread at all. No pizza, nothing. No corn, no beans, no starches of any kind. Egg whites in the morning or like, Greek yogurt, cut some fruit.”
Moreover, Carey doesn’t drink any liquids besides water. He also performs at least 45 minutes of a cardio workout multiple times a week.
According to Carey, his drastic lifestyle changes put him into complete remission, and he no longer needs any medication.
8. David Wells
Announcing his diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in 2007, this American former Major League Baseball pitcher, known for pitching the 15th perfect game in baseball history, immediately changed his diet and lifestyle.
“From the time I found out, I made changes. No more starches and sugar. No more rice, pasta, potatoes, and white bread. No more fast food. I’ve cut out alcohol,” he told ABC News.
Although he still has an occasional glass of wine, for the most part he plays by strict dietary rules.
“I want to be around for a while. If you don’t take care of this, it can lead to some scary stuff… like losing limbs. If anyone has this, it’s a red flag, period. But if I follow the rules I’ve been given, there’s no problem.”
9. Paul Sorvino
This Italian-American actor didn’t know if he could stay away from carbs like pasta when he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2006, but after his diabetes worsened even while taking medication, he created a new diet lifestyle regimen with the help of his daughter, actress Mira Sorvino, that has allowed him to find a healthy balance.
“I use the [insulin] pen,” he told Diabetes Forecast in 2011. “It’s extremely convenient. I don’t really have to worry too much about the day. When you’re on this type of a program, you can live a very healthy life. I’ve always exercised, but now I make sure I don’t go more than two days without exercise. I’ve had to make a big change in how I eat, and that’s OK. It’s not difficult for me to cook in a way that doesn’t injure me.”
Although Sorvino hasn’t given up pasta per se, he now eats low-carb pasta and consumes less sugar. He and his daughter have also become advocates of diabetes support networks through an awareness campaign called Diabetes Co-Stars, which is backed by the pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis.
10. Dick Clark
TV icon Dick Clark announced his having type 2 diabetes to the world at age 64, 10 years after his initial diagnosis, in order to raise awareness and encourage others to see a health advisor and stay on top of their self-care.
“Now, I’m being paid to do this,” he told Larry King in an interview on CNN in 2014. “There’s no secret about that. But that’s not the important thing. The important thing is to get the word out, to get people who know they have diabetes — and by the way, two-thirds of the people who have diabetes don’t realize they’re at risk for heart disease.”
Clark used a combination of pharmaceuticals, dietary changes, and 20 minutes of exercise a day to stay on top of his disease.
He suffered a severe stroke in 2004 with a surprising recovery and became a symbol of hope for many stroke victims, until his death from a heart attack after a medical procedure in 2012.