For four seasons, ABC’s “Black-ish” has used the family sitcom format to boldly address race with episodes about such topics as voter suppression, police brutality and the judicial system, just to name a few. This season, the show is addressing something that is deeply personal to Anthony Anderson, who plays Dre and is an executive producer of the show. Anderson has type 2 diabetes, and this season has seen Dre begin treatment for the disease.
“We’ll be dealing with it throughout the show,” Anderson said. “We’ve joked about about my character Andre being a diabetic, but this is something that we’ll revisit every few episodes to bring awareness and to educate people.”
Anderson was diagnosed as a diabetic about 17 years ago. He said the diagnoses came out of nowhere, and while he showed some symptoms, such as constant fatigue, he attributed those to his busy schedule.
“I chalked it up to that because I was doing things out of the ordinary. I was taking mid-day naps — that was never my thing — but I was like, ‘You’ve been working hard Ant.’ Then one night I drank five gallons of water in two and a half hours, late at night: That’s when I knew.”
With type 2 diabetes, insulin does not properly convert food to energy. It’s treatable, but many people with it aren’t diagnosed, and the treatments of healthy eating and exercise are challenges for many. If untreated type 2 diabetes can lead to other complications.
The steps Anderson had to take involved making healthier choices, taking oral medication, and now injecting himself with medication.
Taking injectables can be difficult for a lot of people, Anderson said, because of fear and not wanting to go through the trouble of sticking yourself with a needle every day. “But once it happens, you’re like, ‘That’s it? This is what I was afraid of? I was afraid of this, that’s going to prolong my life and get me more active and get this disease in check?'”
Over the last nine years, Anderson has lost, and kept off, 50 pounds. He said people with diabetes have stopped him on the street to share their experiences.
Coinciding with the story line is GetRealAboutDiabetes.com, a website that shares Anderson’s story, and provides information, video, photos and resources designed to educate, engage and motivate people with diabetes in terms of their management of the disease.
Partnering with Anderson on the website is Novo Nordisk, the health care company known for its work on diabetes. In fact, Anderson visited Novo Nordisk’s Plainsboro headquarters to talk with employees about the initiative.
“It is making a difference — I am making a difference sharing my story,” he said.