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.”

Source: American Diabetes Association

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