They used to call it “the sugar,” but there’s nothing sweet about diabetes. It’s a global epidemic that affects millions of people worldwide. Every November 14th  since 1991, the International Diabetes Foundation has done its best to spread the word to help combat the disease by creating World Diabetes Day,

The day is celebrated all over the world in tribute to the birthday of Frederick Banting, who along with Charles Best helped discover insulin in 1992. It became an official United Nations Day in 2007.

Even world-class athletes can get diabetes. Former Atlanta Hawks star and two-time slam dunk champion Dominique Wilkins, now a vice-president for the Hawks, has been outspoken in his support of diabetes awareness.

The 53-year-old was diagnosed at 40, just after he ended his NBA career. Wilkins lost both his father and grandfather to diabetes and is an ambassador for Novo Nordisk, one of the world’s leading companies in the fight against diabetes.

“It’s very easy for people to get depressed about this disease,” Wilkins told a crowd of young people at a basketball camp in Illinois earlier this year, as reported by the Rockford Register Star.

“Because they feel like ‘Why me?’ Then you become depressed and worried about things that are out of your control. The only thing that is in your control is to manage it through diet, exercise and medication.”

You can celebrate World Diabetes day by encouraging someone you love to head to the doctor for screening. African-Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes and obesity, stress and lack of exercise are all risk factors.

For those who already have diabetes, you can get more information on living with diabetes at  It’s a website offering menus, food exchange lists and other information for those currently managing diabetes.

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