By: Evette Champion
What would you say if I told you that every 17 seconds, someone in the United States is diagnosed with diabetes; and, every day approximately 230 Americans will have a limb (mostly a foot or leg) amputated due to complications with the disease. Or, what if we told you 120 Americans will develop end-stage renal disease or 45% of those living with diabetes already have some stage of diabetic retinopathy (an eye condition that causes damage to the retina)?
While the disease is a serious threat to Americans, it is an epidemic among the African American community. According to the American Diabetes Association, there are over 2 million African American’s living with the disease—many of which don’t even know they have it. If left untreated, it can lead to strokes, cardiovascular problems, kidney failure, and sadly death.
Cedric “The Entertainer” Kyles, whose father was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2008, joined the American Diabetes Association and Pfizer to create the Step On Up initiative help make more people aware of the complications that are a result of untreated diabetes.
“My dad eventually went to his doctor, and was prescribed a medication to control the nerve pain. Fortunately, my dad was able to get it treated when it was not yet severe,” Kyles says.
Since his father was diagnosed, Kyles has made some changes in regards to his own health. “I am moving more and getting exercise, and I cut way back on refined sugars in my diet,” he says. He also adds that his wife helps with his diet, as she is a vegetarian.
Kyles isn’t the only black celebrity who takes diabetes seriously. There are numerous black celebrities who live with the disease and die from it, such as Phife Dawg from Tribe Called Quest, who passed away on March 23rd at the age of 45 due to complications from diabetes.
Vanessa Williams is type 1 diabetic and supports charities who fund research on the disease.
Angie Stone and Anthony Anderson teamed up with the Fearless African Americans Connected and Empowered diabetes initiative in an effort to bring diabetes awareness to the black community.
Halle Berry, Randy Jackson, Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin, Damon Dash and Dorian Gregory all have diabetes and they prove that it can be managed and it doesn’t have to be a death sentence. Take care of yourself now, by watching what you eat and exercising, you won’t find yourself among the 18.7% of African Americans with the disease.