Actor Anthony Anderson Takes on Diabetes

Alexandria,
September 20, 2010

As one of Hollywood’s self-proclaimed “fat funny guys,” Anthony Anderson has appeared in comedies including Big Momma’s House and Kangaroo Jack, but when he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the age of 32, Anderson found that his weight was no laughing matter. In the October issue of Diabetes Forecast, the consumer magazine of the American Diabetes Association, Anderson opens up about incorporating diabetes management into his busy schedule and how his desire to go skydiving has inspired him to shed pounds. 

It was eight years ago that Anderson started experiencing symptoms of diabetes – he was tired and lethargic. “I chalked it up to being overworked,” he tells Diabetes Forecast. “I just thought I was running myself ragged.” When other symptoms started to appear, such as constant thirst and frequent urination, he saw his doctor and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. 

After his initial diagnosis, Anderson didn’t make many changes to his lifestyle, only to find that he wasn’t feeling better. The turning point was the idea of skydiving. “I want to skydive,” he says, “and one place I called told me you can’t weigh more than 235 pounds.” At 240 pounds, Anderson asked, jokingly, what he could do. Without missing a beat, the person from the skydiving center said, “Lose five pounds.” He started to run three miles a day, and cut back his portion sizes. “Now I’m well below 235, and I’m going to jump out of a plane!”

Diabetes was not new in Anderson’s family. His father had the disease, and his mother was recently diagnosed. Despite this, Anderson found that there were very few people talking about diabetes who spoke to him as a young African American man. He decided to be a spokesperson for Eli Lilly’s FACE Diabetes, an initiative to educate and empower African Americans about diabetes. “Statistics show that African Americans born today have a 50 percent chance of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes,” Anderson says. “That’s what I’m doing now with the FACE Diabetes initiative through Lilly—getting as much information [as possible] and bringing awareness to our community and to our youth, because if we catch it early enough, this can be prevented.”

This issue of Diabetes Forecast also features an article titled “Why Me? Understanding the Causes of Diabetes.” It’s the question nearly everyone with a serious illness asks sooner or later: What did I do to deserve this? With both type 1 and type 2 diabetes on the rise, understanding the causes of diabetes may help curb the increase in new cases as well as quiet those pesky questions that have no easy answers.

The October issue offers more:

  • Trick or Treat: Enjoying Halloween when you (or your kids) have diabetes
  • Healthy Steps: School Walk for Diabetes promotes health and fitness in youngsters
  • Research Profile: Can video games help people lose weight? Looking at how the “exergame” Dance Dance Revolution can be used in a diabetes management program

Diabetes Forecast has been America's leading diabetes magazine for more than 60 years, offering the latest news on diabetes research and treatment to provide information, inspiration, and support to people with diabetes. 

The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight to Stop Diabetes and its deadly consequences and fighting for those affected by diabetes. The Association funds research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes; delivers services to hundreds of communities; provides objective and credible information; and gives voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes. Founded in 1940, our mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.

For more information please call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2383) or visit www.diabetes.org. Information from both these sources is available in English and Spanish.