18 Celebrities With Type 2 Diabetes
Famous people with diabetes
People often think that type 2 diabetes strikes only the overweight and sedentary, or unhealthy eaters.
But anyone can be diagnosed with diabetes, even world-class athletes, or the rich and famous.
The following celebrities all had some risk factors for diabetes (such as weight, ethnicity, or family history), but many were still shocked to hear the diagnosis. They’ve all made healthy changes in their lives, and many now speak out about the dangers of type 2 diabetes.
When Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe was diagnosed with diabetes, she took charge of her health, secretly going under the knife after more than a decade of trying to lose weight naturally. “I truly didn’t want to worry about all the effects that go along with diabetes,” she told People. “I genuinely [would] worry all the time about losing my toes.”
Since having bariatric surgery in 2016, the Brooklyn-born actress, beloved for her breakout role in the 2009 film Precious, continued to make positive lifestyle changes by working with a nutritionist and amping up her fitness regimen.
S. Epatha Merkerson
This Emmy award-winning actress won us over as Lt. Van Buren on Law & Order and then as hospital administrator Sharon Goodwin on Chicago Med. In her off-screen life, Merkerson is both a diabetes patient and advocate. She encourages others to reach their A1c goals.
Even though she had a family history of type 2 diabetes, “my diagnosis was a wake-up call,” she told USA Today in 2016. “I knew I had to start making serious changes to my lifestyle to take control of my health.” That included making more nutritious food choices and taking up brisk walking.
When Tom Hanks announced in 2013 that he had type 2 diabetes, he joined millions of other Americans with this diagnosis. Age 60, Hanks had elevated blood sugar levels for years before being diagnosed, a not uncommon pattern with type 2.
While weight gain is a risk factor, yo-yo dieting may have also played a part. Hanks gained 30 and lost 50 pounds for A League of Their Own and Cast Away, respectively, among other roles that required weight changes.
While an unhealthy diet doesn't mean you will definitely get type 2 diabetes, excess weight, which ups the risk of insulin resistance, is a strong risk factor for this type of diabetes. Other contributors include genes, aging, and more.
Doctors say that Berry likely had type 2 diabetes all along, because there is no way to avoid insulin if you have type 1. (Type 1s can’t survive without it.)
Since Berry is healthy and fit, doctors may have initially ruled out type 2, which usually affects young people only if they are overweight.
Sorvino now has his diabetes under control, thanks to healthier eating, exercise, medication, and daily insulin injections.
Even though his father was diabetic, Jackson says, he never imagined it would happen to him.
With gastric bypass surgery, he lost almost 100 pounds. He has kept the weight offand his diabetes under controlwith healthy eating and daily exercise.
In 2003 he had been diagnosed with diabetes after he woke one morning with a numb and tingly arm, he told People. Soon after, the death of his friend and former governor Frank White motivated him to get healthy.
Huckabee dropped from 3,000 calories a day to 1,600. Just two years later, he had completed several marathons, and today he says he has reversed all signs of his diabetes.
"I learned how to, on the set, have certain kinds of snacks that were readily available to me," she told dLifeTV, a program associated with the popular diabetes website. "I test my blood sugar in public and I’ll give myself shots in front of people and after a while it becomes normal."
Going on the diabetes drug Byetta in 2005 helped Burke get back to a healthy weight and improved her blood sugar.
Clark had a stroke later that year (a common danger for diabetics) and didn’t return to TV until the 2005–2006 New Year’s Eve countdown. In 2009, Clark told USA Today that he was "feeling fine, though the stroke has slowed me down and made it difficult for me to walk and talk." Clark died in 2012 at age 82 after a post-surgery heart attack.
Billie Jean King
King, who founded the Women’s Sports Foundation in 1974, has a family history of diabetes and also had an eating disorder in the past. "I was a binge eater. I don’t binge eat anymore, but for about 10 years, I was being very cruel to my poor little pancreas."
To keep her condition under control, she exercises frequently, takes medication, and tests her blood sugar once or twice a day.
LaBelle was no stranger to diabetes complications: Her mother had leg amputations, and an uncle had gone blind. So, she got in shape and revamped her cooking techniques.
The "divabetic," as she refers to herself, has released three cookbooks that include diabetic-friendly recipes.
The 82-year-old CNN anchor who retired from Larry King Live at the end of 2010 has been on diabetes medication since 1995. King told Diabetes Forecast magazine that before he was diagnosed, he had no symptoms.
King does have a history of heart disease, however, and acknowledges the connection between the two conditions: "As my cardiologist said to me, diabetes is heart disease." After a heart attack in 1987, King quit smoking, lost weight, and changed his eating habits, and, in 2004, he wrote a book called Taking on Heart Disease.
"I had this vision of my son, Jeffrey, who was 2 then, lying on his bed and crying because he was trying to figure out where heaven was. Because that’s where everyone said Mommy was," she told Diabetes Forecast magazine in 2009.
Shepherd slimmed down from a size 16 to a size 4 by working with a nutritionist and a personal trainer.
"Once I started dropping a couple pant sizes, then it was easy," he said. "’Cause once you see the results, then you don’t wanna stop."
David "Boomer" Wells
When he was diagnosed with type 2 in 2007, he cut out alcohol, as well as rice, pasta, potatoes, and white bread, he told ESPN, in order to manage diabetes.
Earl "The Pearl" Monroe
Monroe played professional basketball from 1967 to 1980, but faced an even bigger challenge off the court, when he was diagnosed with diabetes in 1998.
In 2011, Monroe (now in his 70s), took part in the first Diabetes Restaurant Month. In 11 cities across the country, restaurants were challenged to make popular menu items diabetes friendly, while diners were challenged to make healthy choices (like sending back the bread basket and asking questions about how food is prepared) when eating out.
After rising to stardom in Leave it to Beaver, actor Jerry Mathers later launched his own catering business, but a grim diagnosis in 1997 completely altered his path.
“My doctor told me I had type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and bad cholesterol was flooding my body,” Mathers said in a news release. The prognosis? He’d only live another three to five years unless he did something about his health. “I’ve been controlling my weight with diet and exercise ever since,” he told Fox News in 2017.