Type 2 diabetes is a manageable condition that affects many people in the United States, including famous people.
If you have type 2 diabetes, you’re not alone.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over
Diabetes can cause symptoms that include:
- excessive thirst
- frequent urination
Many famous people also live with type 2 diabetes. Although people with type 2 diabetes may face similar challenges, each person’s story is unique.
For some people, health disparities due to race, ethnicity, or income may affect their access to necessary care. For others, having better access to certain resources can help them better manage their type 2 diabetes.
Doctors typically recommend managing type 2 diabetes with a treatment plan that may include:
A support system is also important. It takes time and energy to manage a chronic condition.
It’s possible to live with type 2 diabetes and have a full and healthy life.
Here are some stories of celebrities who lived or continue to live with type 2 diabetes.
American television and radio host Larry King received a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in 1995, 8 years after surviving bypass surgery following a heart attack. After his diagnosis, he quit smoking and made other lifestyle changes to his diet and exercise that would help him manage his diabetes.
He replaced higher-fat foods with nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables and tried to spend 30 minutes a day exercising, particularly dancing.
His three rules involved eating what he loved, keeping exercise fun, and following the treatment plan with medications as needed.
Larry King died at the age of 87 in 2021.
In 1989, after feeling fatigued, Academy Award-winning American actress Halle Berry passed out while working on the TV show “Living Dolls.” She spent 7 days in a coma until her blood sugar levels could be normalized. That was when she received a diabetes diagnosis.
As soon as she returned from the hospital, Berry began a treatment plan. As part of her management plan, she changed her diet to one that includes fresh vegetables, chicken, fish, and pasta and omits red meat. She also hired a personal trainer and practices yoga to stay active.
“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.”
This musician, producer, and judge on “American Idol” received a diagnosis of 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.”
Emotional eating is when you use food as a way to cope with big emotions. If you’re concerned about emotional eating, consider reaching out to a doctor, a dietitian, or a mental health counselor for support.
Jackson and his doctor developed a treatment plan involving a diet and exercise regimen that would help manage his blood sugar levels. He also underwent gastric bypass surgery to help him maintain a moderate weight.
Today, Jackson believes that he is living proof that you can manage type 2 diabetes. Taking charge of his health has made him a stronger, happier person.
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 of his cheeseburgers would be a solution but quickly realized it would take more work than that.
Many people make drastic changes after a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. For long-term maintenance, it’s important that any changes you make feel sustainable.
Comedian and former co-host on ABC’s “The View,” Shepherd received a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in 2007, after having prediabetes for many years.
Doctors diagnose prediabetes when blood sugar levels are above typical levels but not quite in the diabetes range. Many people live with prediabetes for years before developing type 2 diabetes. Some people may not go on to develop type 2 diabetes.
At first, Shepherd took three different medications to manage her diabetes. After making changes to her diet and creating a regular exercise regimen, she was able to manage her blood sugar without medication.
Some people may be able to manage type 2 diabetes with lifestyle changes, such as following a specific eating plan, getting regular exercise, and managing stress. Others may need diabetes medication or insulin to help manage their blood sugar levels. Whichever way you manage your blood sugar levels, keeping them in a safe range can help prevent complications and keep your diabetes from progressing.
When asked by U.S. News how she worked exercise into her daily routine, Shepherd 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 countertop. 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.”
Shepherd 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).”
“If you have diabetes, it’s not a death sentence,” Shepherd said. “And if you’re prediabetic, don’t sit in the dark and try to ignore it. So many people are paralyzed with fear, but knowledge is power. Once you know, then you can take charge.”
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. Diabetes often runs in families, and this is true for LaBelle. Her mother, grandmother, and aunt all died from complications of type 2 diabetes.
Prior to her diagnosis, LaBelle hadn’t noticed any previous symptoms.
It took a lot of hard work, but she’s managed to adopt a nutritious eating plan and daily exercise habits. She wrote a cookbook called “Patti LaBelle’s Lite Cuisine.”
Patti LaBelle also advocates for better access to diabetes care and technology for Black people. In the United States, Black people are 60% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Even with these higher rates, there are many disparities in access to diabetes care.
In a USA Today article, LaBelle says, “I am proud of how far I have come on my health journey, and I am blessed and privileged to have an incredible support system in my doctors, family, and friends. But millions of Americans in this country are not as fortunate.”
Some people may not be able to access care or follow a doctor’s recommendations for their treatment due to high costs or other barriers.
In less than a year after his diagnosis, Drew Carey — American television actor and host best known for “The Drew Carey Show” and “The Price is Right” — made major changes. In 2010, Carey told People magazine that he no longer needs any medication.
Not everyone will be able to stop taking their medications for diabetes and that’s OK. Medications can be an important part of taking care of yourself, along with lifestyle changes.
You may have heard about the huge amount of weight that Carey lost. He credits his weight loss with being able to get off his medication. It’s essential to always get medical advice before making significant changes to your diet and exercise regime. Taking drastic action without a doctor’s help may not be safe.
It’s also important that society acknowledges that anti-fat bias exists in healthcare. This can be a barrier for many people to seek medical care and get a diagnosis. It also prevents ongoing care for type 2 diabetes. Weight stigma results in
You can work with a healthcare professional to increase the chance of safely losing weight based on your situation and maintaining long-term weight loss. There isn’t one proven way to lose weight and methods can vary from person to person. Doctors typically recommend making changes you can stick with long term.
While changing your eating plan may help you maintain a moderate weight, eating nutrient-rich foods has many benefits for your overall long-term health.
Announcing his diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in 2007, former American Major League Baseball pitcher David Wells is known for pitching the 15th perfect game in baseball history.
When he found out he had diabetes, he immediately changed his diet, including cutting out fast food and alcohol, according to ABC News.
However, he still has an occasional glass of wine. After a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, many people make dramatic changes that are not sustainable. It’s important that whatever dietary changes you make feel realistic for you and support your overall health.
“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.”
This Italian American actor didn’t know if he could stay away from pasta when he received a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in 2006.
Sorvino’s blood sugar levels continued to rise, even while taking medication. He created a new diet and lifestyle regimen with the help of his daughter, actress Mira Sorvino. This allowed him to find a healthy balance.
“Maybe it’s because the treatment that I’m using let’s me dial exactly what I need and gives me the feeling that my blood sugar is more even throughout the day that I feel fine,” he told the Los Angeles Daily News in 2010, regarding his use of an insulin pen.
Many people still imagine insulin being given via a large needle. That’s no longer true. Insulin pens use short, very fine needle tips. This makes injecting much easier and more comfortable.
Sorvino never did give up pasta. It’s wise that he was aware it wouldn’t be sustainable for him to remove it. He opted for low carb varieties and reduced his sugar intake.
Not everyone with diabetes needs to follow a low carb diet. You can work with a nutritionist or doctor to determine an eating plan to help you manage diabetes or follow other eating plans, such as the plate method or a Mediterranean diet.
Alongside his daughter, Sorvino became an advocate of diabetes support networks through an awareness campaign called Diabetes Co-Stars, backed by the pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis.
Sorvino died in 2022 at the age of 83 years.
DeLaria is known for playing Big Boo on Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black.” DeLaria is also a comedian and jazz singer.
Before getting steady work on “Orange is the New Black,” DeLaria was working multiple jobs to make ends meet. In an interview, she revealed that she did not go to the doctor for about 10 years because she did not have health insurance and couldn’t afford to go. She may have lived with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes for several years before she was able to get medical care.
This is a reality for many people in the United States. Data from 2020 estimates that 8.6% of the population does not have health insurance.
You may know Porter as the actor who plays Pray Tell on “Pose.” He’s also done multiple Broadway shows, hosted awards shows, and has a bold sense of style.
Porter lives with both HIV and type 2 diabetes. He was diagnosed with both chronic conditions in 2007. “It was…the worst year of my life,” says Porter in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Because of the stigma of living with HIV, he did not tell anyone about it for 14 years.
There is also stigma associated with type 2 diabetes. A survey of more than 500 people with type 2 diabetes showed that about 1 in 3 felt shame about their diabetes. Shame is associated with lower quality of life and reduced access to healthcare.
Remember, diabetes is not your fault. Many factors, including genetics and other health conditions, can contribute to your risk factors. Don’t let stigma prevent you from getting the healthcare you deserve.
According to Porter, “I go to the doctor, and I know what’s going on in my body. I’m the healthiest I’ve been in my entire life,” he said.
Both HIV and type 2 diabetes are manageable conditions.
Anderson is an actor and comedian. He’s probably best known for his role in “Black-ish.” He is also very open about his diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
He has lived with the condition for about 20 years. His dad also had type 2 diabetes. When Anderson began to notice extreme thirst and frequent urination, he recognized the symptoms and contacted his doctor.
Now, as an advocate, he is passionate about spreading the word about diabetes and its link with heart disease. He has partnered with Novo Nordisk at www.GetRealAboutDiabetes.com. On this site, he shares his personal story and provides resources about managing type 2 diabetes and preventing heart disease.
Seeing how celebrities cope with diabetes can be encouraging. Still, it’s worth noting that they may have access to personal trainers, specialist doctors, and other support that most people do not have. Sometimes they follow diets that work for them but may not be suitable for everyone. There is no single way to manage diabetes.
When celebrities share about their diets, remember they will most likely have a dietitian or other expert to help them.
The American Diabetes Association does not recommend any particular diet for managing diabetes. But they do emphasize the importance of working with a doctor when creating a treatment plan or making any major changes.