Television veteran Dick Clark
, 74, has had adult-onset diabetes for the past decade. He's always kept his medical condition on the down low, telling only close friends and family. However, Clark publicly disclosed it last month when he assumed a new role as spokesman for the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Here, Clark shares with TV Guide Online his personal experience with the disease.
TV Guide Online: How long have you had diabetes? How did you find out?
Dick Clark: Ten or 11 years ago, I went in for a normal physical checkup. The doctor said, "It looks like you've got Type 2 diabetes. We'll put you on a diet, have you do some exercise and, if necessary, we'll give you some medication." It's going well. The only change in my lifestyle has been my habits. I don't eat as much. I've been trying to lose another two or three pounds because the doctor says I've got to.
TVGO: How do you feel you will be perceived by the public, now that you've made your diabetes known?
Clark: I don't think it makes the least bit of difference. There are a lot of other famous people with diabetes: Halle Berry, Mary Tyler Moore... I'm just joining [them]. A lot of people say, "Well, if he's got it, maybe I'd better listen."
TVGO: How did your family and friends respond to your diagnosis?
Clark: In all honesty, it didn't cause a ripple, although we've never had diabetes in my family, to the best of my knowledge. It seemed like something controllable. Having diabetes is not the end of the world, nor should you feel sorry for the person or worry about them. But the alarming new news is that the leading cause of death in adults with diabetes is heart disease. Two-thirds of all adults with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke. [Many] of us with diabetes don't realize what a problem it is. That's the main reason I'm out there shouting about it.
TVGO: Do you consider yourself the "captain" of your personal diabetes team — reading up on all the latest and participating in discussion groups — or do you leave your treatment primarily in the hands of your doctors?
Clark: In all honesty, I pay attention to what my doctor says. Sometimes a little knowledge in the hands of amateurs is a dangerous thing. I'd be inclined to give attention to the healthcare giver in your life.
TVGO: Do you need to test yourself with a glucose meter or take insulin shots regularly?
Clark: No, I don't do that. I'm not in that category yet. I go in for a mild physical checkup every couple of months where he checks my blood pressure, my heart and the rest of it.
TVGO: Is there any positive side to having diabetes?
Clark: [Chuckles] The only positive side that I can see is it's caused me to lose weight. Having my clothes fit is kind of nice!