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Anthony Anderson was always a husky guy, but that never stopped the actor from getting great roles in movies like “Two Can Play That Game” and TV shows like “Law and Order.” But Anderson’s greatest role may be as a spokesperson for Eli Lilly’s F.A.C.E. campaign, which helps African-Americans who are dealing with diabetes.

Anderson has been a diabetic for the last eight years, but if you’ve seen him lately, you know he’s looking better and healthier than ever. Read on to find out how diabetes has affected his life.

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ANTHONY ANDERSON: What prompted it was a healthier lifestyle. I’ve been diabetic for the last eight years. I started in January of ‘09, and I’ve lost 45 pounds since then. I did a little exercise combined with portion control and eating healthier. For a while I was gluten-, sugar- and alcohol-free. I was bike riding around NYC, all kinds of things. I stated with that 30-day program to cleanse my system, but I still try to stay away from complex carbs and all of that. I still drink occasionally. But everything is good in moderation, I’ve found out in research and from my nutritionist.

How did those lifestyle changes make you feel?


I just feel healthier. I have more energy through the day for longer periods of time. You take care of your body, it will take care of you. And I sleep better, too.

Well, since we want to encourage young men to make changes to prevent diabetes, were there any more personal results?

I’ve never had that problem (Laughs), but speaking that way, the healthier you are the cleaner you are, the healthier you will be in every aspect of life, whether running up and down the basketball court or being intimate with someone you’re with. Will Smith will tell you that when he was training for “Ali” how he was feeling – or better still, Jada will tell you that.

How did you find out you were diabetic?

I had all the symptoms – being lethargic, cotton mouth, constantly urinating. When I went to the doctor, my blood sugars were 235. The normal range is anywhere between 85-100.

What made you decide to publicly share your battle with diabetes?

When I look at TV today, and you hear talk about diabetes, you see Wilford Brimley, B.B. King and Patti Labelle, and they don’t speak to our young community. If you think of them, you think of it being an old folk’s problem, but it affected me in the prime of my life. I wanted to be a catalyst for that. I wanted to be a spokesperson for diabetes because I believe people can identify with that. Why not me? I speak to the everyday man. Especially knowing how this disease affects our young brothers, why not have someone talk about that?

How did diabetes change your life in a positive way?

By forcing me to live healthier and by forcing me to take stock in my well-being and how I want to live. Those are the positive steps I’ve taken from it. It’s that simple.

What do you want people to know about the overall impact of diabetes?

They need to know that its affecting our youth. Childhood obesity is a problem in our community, and that goes hand in hand with Type 2 diabetes. They need to know that this a disease that you don’t just get diagnosed with at 60. You can get it at 16. We want to get the word out and dispel some of the misconceptions. 

How can you prevent diabetes in the first place?

I was the first one diagnosed with diabetes in my family. My mother and father were diagnosed later. Preventive care is about living a healthier lifestyle – not putting junk in your body, not eating fried foods every day. Sugar, Kool-Aid, those are all of the things that we eat in our community on a daily basis. Portion control – that’s the simplest out of all of it.  In my travels out in the world, especially in Europe, I was wondering where is the rest of the food? We’re so good at eating a half-pound hamburger. Everything here is supersized. You go to some of these restaurants and order breakfast, and you’ve got three-five pancakes the size of the plate, and it’s coming with sausage – all for $3.99. We’re overeating and overeating the wrong foods. 

It’s pretty scary to get a diabetic diagnosis.  People think of blindness, amputations and all the adverse effects. How did you cope?

All the thoughts and fears that people have about diabetes come from misinformation and lack of awareness. That’s what Eli Lilly’s F.A.C.E.  campaign is all about – how you can live with diabetes instead of dying from it. That’s what it’s about. That’s this whole mission – to inundate our community and the people of our community with information so they know exactly how to live with it and not in fear of it.

Once you’re diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, all of that can be managed with diet and exercise. It’s not a death sentence. I’m just taking pills, and I’m not trying to take a pill for the rest of my life. Everything is easy if you have a plan. If I know I’m going to be on set for 14 hours, I plan my meals. We plan everything in our life down to the simplest things. Why wouldn’t you plan for your life? It’s about having priorities and being disciplined and sticking with them.

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