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Diabetes Health Center

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Randy Jackson Tackles Weight Loss, Diet, and Diabetes

American Idol judge reveals how he lost 100 pounds and tamed his diabetes. Plus, a slimmed-down recipe and his iPod playlist!

Randy Jackson's Diabetes

Getting diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2001 was the final straw for Jackson, who had no choice but to start taking his health seriously. And while this set him on his current path, there were -- and still are -- some bumps along the way. “The struggle continues,” he says. “It never ends.”

At the time of his diagnosis, Jackson found himself in the emergency room after feeling tired, thirsty, sweaty, and dizzy for five days. He was 45 at the time.

Even though he was at higher risk for type 2 diabetes due to his weight, ethnicity, and family history, the diagnosis caught him off guard. Both his parents had what he calls “the sugar,” but, ever protective of their children, they didn’t really share much about their struggles with the disease.

Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes and the form most closely associated with obesity. It occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells do not properly use the insulin. Over time, high blood sugar levels may harm the eyes, kidneys, nerves, or heart.

“When you grow up with ‘the sugar’ in your family, there are a lot of decisions you could make, such as cut back on this or cut back on that and do more of this or more of that, but you never think it will happen to you,” he says.

Except that it did. “A generation ago people weren’t as overweight as they are today, which has changed the playing field,” says John Buse, MD, PhD, chief of the endocrinology division and director of the Diabetes Care Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the American Diabetes Association’s president for medicine and science.

“Today, for people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, a family history of diabetes is a pretty strong risk factor because our environment is worse than our ancestors,” he says. “If you do have a family history, your risk is twice as great as the general population. And if you’re also overweight, you should start screening at puberty and not wait until your 30s or 40s.”

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