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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!

Diabetes Symptoms Can Be Invisible

Jackson feels fortunate that he caught his diabetes when he did. “Things can jump up and surprise you,” he says. “I thought I had a cold,” he says, still shocked seven years later that he didn’t make the connection.

Jackson’s case isn’t unusual. “You can function reasonably well until things are about 90 percent down,” Buse says.

“A normal blood sugar is 100 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL), and it’s rare to have symptoms until your blood sugar is twice as high as that.” When Jackson found himself in the ER, his blood sugar was more than 500 mg/dL. Plus, when there are symptoms, they are pretty nonspecific, such as waking up at night to urinate, blurred vision, and fatigue. And even these signs don’t always show up.

“Of the six or seven million people who have diabetes and don’t know it, almost none would have any symptoms,” Buse says. That’s why many people don’t know they have it until they have a stroke or a heart attack.

“More people probably know who Kelly Clarkson is than realize that diabetes is connected to cardiovascular disease and stroke,” Jackson says.

Randy Jackson's Gastric Bypass Surgery

Jackson has teamed up with the American Heart Association to lead the Heart of Diabetes campaign (, which provides information and tools to help people with type 2 better manage their disease.

He also leads childhood obesity prevention and treatment programs in East and South Los Angeles.“Obese kids are made fun of in school and we are trying to lighten their loads,” Jackson says. “We want to get to them and teach them to adopt healthy lifestyles before they need gastric bypass surgery.”

In 2003, Jackson chose to undergo gastric bypass surgery, in which a surgeon creates a smaller stomach pouch to curb food intake by stapling a portion of the stomach. Put another way: The once-larger stomach is now the size of a golf ball. As a result, a person feels full sooner and eats less.

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