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American Idol's Randy Jackson

American Idol's Randy Jackson

Photo courtesy of Fox Broadcasting Company

He doesn't miss a beat controlling his diabetes.

Musician, producer, and American Idol judge Randy Jackson is a well-known name in the music world. He has played bass guitar with such musical legends as jazz violinist Jean Luc Ponty, the pop-rock band Journey, and many others. And he's produced hit records for Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.

While millions may know his name and face, they probably don't know he has type 2 diabetes. However, because of his celebrity, Jackson feels that he can—and should—make a difference by telling others about the dangers of diabetes. "I know first hand what it's like to live with the disease and how it affects your life," he says. "This is why it's so important for me to get the word out about type 2 diabetes and its connection with cardiovascular disease."

Jackson was caught off guard when he was diagnosed. In his mid-40s at the time, he had a family history of diabetes, but didn't realize that it was to blame for his feeling so tired and being dehydrated. The Louisiana native decided he needed to make some major changes for a healthier lifestyle.

"When I found out that I had type 2 diabetes, I was like, 'Wow,' I have a serious disease. It not only had a physical, but also an emotional impact on me." He understands how hard it may be for people to make the necessary crucial lifestyle changes diabetes demands. "It was hard to change my eating habits because food for me is emotional—I often found comfort in eating food that happened to be unhealthy."

"Today, I know that regular checkups with a doctor, healthy food choices, and an active lifestyle are extremely important for managing type 2 diabetes."

Jackson, the proud father of three children, worked with his doctor to create a plan of diet and exercise to help control his blood sugar levels. And gastric bypass surgery in 2004 helped him to shed over 100 pounds, which he has managed to keep off.

"Today, I know that regular checkups with a doctor, healthy food choices, and an active lifestyle are extremely important for managing type 2 diabetes. There is no magic cure, and it's not always easy. But I believe everyone has the potential to take charge and manage the disease in his or her own way. I am living proof that type 2 diabetes can be managed. In fact, taking charge of my lifestyle and making a change to be healthier has made me a stronger, happier person."

To leverage his celebrity to promote diabetes research, Jackson has partnered with the American Heart Association in a program called "The Heart of Diabetes," which teaches people to pay attention to the early warning signs of diabetes—and seek medical help.

Winter 2008 Issue: Volume 3 Number 1 Page 14