Published: Saturday, 13 November 2021 19:13
Nick Jonas is working to help increase awareness for what it’s like to live with diabetes, and hopes to inspire those with the condition to know they can lead happy and healthy lives. Image via Dexcom
- Nick Jonas, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 13 years old, is helping raise awareness of the condition and working to help others who have diabetes to live their happiest and healthiest lives.
- Jonas joined The Global Movement for Time in Range to talk about the benefits of time in range, which is the duration of time during which a person’s glucose levels are in the goal range.
- New diabetes management technologies can help people living with diabetes monitor it more accurately than ever before. However, many people are still unable to access it.
In 2005, pop star Nick Jonas was 13 years old, singing his heart out on tour with his band the Jonas Brothers, when he landed in the hospital.
“I was in really bad shape, actually. I lost about 20 pounds in 2 weeks. I couldn’t drink enough water, was going to the bathroom all the time; very irritable, which is a symptom of high blood sugar,” he told Healthline.
When doctors discovered his blood sugar level was over 900 mg/dL (less than 140 mg/dL is considered normal range), Jonas was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
“That was alarming and the start to my life with this disease. It’s pretty wild to think back that had it gone untreated just a few more days, it could have been really, really bad, but I got the care I needed when I needed it,” Jonas said.
A few days after his hospital stay, he was back on tour performing with his brothers.
“I’ve always been very determined and passionate about the work that I do. This was a scary kind of reality that I had to face, but not something where I was going to, for a single second, let it slow me down,” he said.
In addition to the support of his friends and family, Jonas credits the care of doctors and innovations in diabetes management tools for helping him move forward.
“I think technology is incredibly important when it comes to life with diabetes, and it is a pretty crazy thing to think that even in my 16 years as a type 1 diabetic, how much has changed and how far the tech has come,” Jonas said.
Helping the world to #SeeDiabetes
Jonas teamed up with The Global Movement for Time in Range, an initiative that aims to accelerate the adoption of time in range as an important metric in diabetes management.
Dr. Minisha Sood, endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, explained that time in range is the duration of time during which a person’s glucose levels are in the goal range.
“We know that increasing time in range lowers hemoglobin A1c, and lower A1C is associated with a decrease in complications from diabetes,” Sood told Healthline. “Most health practitioners and patients use A1C to gauge someone’s glucose control, but time in range and using glycemic variability are important tools to give us the whole picture.”
For Jonas, time in range has been a helpful metric.
“Life-changing, in fact, to have a better sense where I’m at and where I’m headed in real time, and a bigger, broader view of my life with diabetes and how to live my happiest and healthiest life,” he said.
Jonas recently discovered that his A1C was the best it’s been since receiving his diagnosis, and said time in range is part of the reason.
By joining The Global Movement for Time in Range, he hopes to raise awareness for the need for greater global access to diabetes technology that can measure time in range.
In addition to advocating for improved access to diabetes care, during November, Jonas is using his Instagram to help the world #SeeDiabetes by featuring inspiring stories of people around the world living with diabetes.
He’ll also speak candidly about his own diabetes journey on Nov. 16 — the anniversary of his diagnosis.
“What’s interesting about diabetes is that it affects so many people, not just the individual themselves, but their friends, family… should someone see something on my channel whether they are diabetic or not and being able to share that with someone they know who lives with the disease, is a really interesting and exciting thing to get to do,” Jonas said.
Tackling diabetes health disparities
In 2020, The Global Movement for Time in Range conducted a survey of people with insulin-treated diabetes.
The survey found that 84 percent of respondents with insulin-treated diabetes believe they deserve the most cutting-edge technology available to manage their disease. However, many are still unable to access it.
“The underserved and overlooked individuals with diabetes do not have access to the best medications and devices, knowledgeable [healthcare professionals], proper education, and support,” Dr. Steven Edelman, professor at the University of California, San Diego, told Healthline. “We really need to do something to help these people living with diabetes and their family members.”
Sood agreed, and noted that people living with diabetes constantly fight against increasing costs of supplies and medications used to manage their condition.
“They also struggle to gain access to the new and breakthrough medications due to high cost and other factors. When people with diabetes are hospitalized, they often must advocate for themselves because in-hospital diabetes management is woefully inadequate, generally speaking,” Sood said.
By teaming up with The Global Movement for Time in Range, Jonas aims to help people understand they are deserving of adequate care, and give hope that they can manage their condition well.
“When I was diagnosed, being in the hospital was bleak and honestly overwhelming and scary,” he said.
Jonas believes if he had heard someone he was a fan of or looked up to talk about living with diabetes, it could have created normalcy around his experience.
He hopes to help his fans in this way.
“I think the encouraging thing for them to know is that this is a manageable disease, and there may be a bump along the way, but you can do it,” Jonas said.
“If you can just take the pressure off yourself and allow yourself to go on that journey and do the best you can each day, then that’s all that matters,” he said.
Cathy Cassata is a freelance writer who specializes in stories around health, mental health, medical news, and inspirational people. She writes with empathy and accuracy and has a knack for connecting with readers in an insightful and engaging way. Read more of her work here.
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