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EBONY Exclusive

Viola Davis Discusses America’s Diabetes Crisis, Being Pre-Diabetic

In recognition of November’s designation as National Diabetes Month, we are revisiting articles that focus on th disease, such as this exclusive from May 2019.

Oscar, Tony and Emmy Award winner Viola Davis recently sat down with EBONY to discuss a new film, Merck’s A Touch of Sugar documentary addressing America’s diabetes crisis and how it disproportionately affects Black and brown lives.

Davis, who narrates the film, was drawn to the project due to her own experience and revealed that several of her family members are diabetic. Others have passed away because of complications from the disease.

“A huge number of my family members have Type 2 diabetes. My great-aunt died from complications from diabetes, as did my grandmother,” she said.

The actress, who won an Academy Award for her performance in Fences, has been diagnosed as pre-diabetic herself nd says she was in disbelief when her doctor told her.

“I said, ‘that’s got to be a mistake. My glucose levels are always great, I eat right, I exercise.’ Then she read my numbers, and they were elevated super-high.”

In addition to arming herself with information, the How to Get Away With Murder star became a “warrior” for her own health, asking her doctor and sisters who have type 2 diabetes for advice on diet and overall lifestyle choices.

When it comes to people of color who often refer to the disease as “the sugar,” Davis suggested taking actionable steps to avoid the fate of so many of her family members.

“When we were growing up it was, ‘Umm hmm, you know, Aunt so-and-so got the sugar,’ and then nobody did anything. We continued to eat our cornbread and the dumplings … we have to change our relationship with food, we have to change … how we see our health and going to the doctor on a regular basis and we need to create a support group within our community to help each other.”

Check out the clip above.

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