You may know him as the singer-turned-actor currently starring in DirectTV’s Kingdom, but Nick Jonas is more than just a good-looking guy with a great voice – he also suffers from Type 1 diabetes.
Jonas was diagnosed with the disease at 13 years old, and has been an advocate for sufferers since then.
Before rising to superstardom as part of the Jonas Brothers pop band with his two brothers, Joe and Kevin, Nick, now 23, always knew that he loved performing. He was on Broadway before his 8th birthday and co-write a song at 10 that eventually led to his discovery by a major music label.
In November 2005, a diagnosis seemed as though it would change the direction that Nick’s future was heading. After quickly dropping 15 pounds, Nick was tested and diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
He doesn’t allow his disease to control his life, instead using it as a motivating factor to achieve as much as he possibly can.
After finding out that the disease wasn’t an immediate threat, Nick set out to understand more about the illness, including who else it affected and how it changed their lives. The song “A Little Bit Longer,” from the Jonas Brothers’ 2008 album of the same name, details this struggle. Nick started writing the song on the way to the hospital, finishing it 2 years later while filming the Disney Channel movie Camp Rock.
How did Nick handle being diagnosed with diabetes while rising to fame and dealing with puberty at the same time? As he stated in an interview with Diabetes Daily last year, “On top of my voice changing and so much happening with the band, I was learning how many carbohydrates were in things and how much insulin to take with certain things. Everyone’s journey with diabetes is very different. It took time to learn about my body and how it would react.”
While not outspoken on the disease right away, he eventually used his fame to shine light on the trials that come with having a chronic illness. During a performance for a diabetes fundraising show in 2007, Jonas asked the people in the audience to raise their hands if they had the disease – and then did so himself. This was his way of “coming out” as a Type 1 diabetic.
When his blood sugar is affecting his mood, he doesn’t hide it from those around him. If he has an episode of low blood sugar, his guitar tech is there with anything a diabetic could need.
Jonas had started the Change for Children Foundation prior to his diagnosis, but diabetes became an important part of the Foundation’s mission. He has been a diabetes ambassador for Bayer Diabetes Care since 2008, and, in 2009, he flew to Washington DC to testify about the disease in front of a Senate Committee.
Jonas also co-launched Beyond Type 1, an organization devoted to providing education and awareness for Type 1 diabetes.
Jonas’s day-to-day life has also obviously been affected. Not only does he use an insulin pump to keep his blood glucose level from getting too low, but he also stays physically active and eats healthy. When his blood sugar is affecting his mood, he doesn’t hide it from those around him. This is extremely important when he is performing – if he has an episode of low blood sugar, his guitar tech is there with anything a diabetic could need.
Nick uses a glucose monitor and a bluetooth-enabled smartphone app to track his blood glucose levels. Nick’s security guy is an EMT, and he monitors the star’s blood sugar levels using the same app. This allows Jonas to live a pretty normal life, for a superstar.
In late June 2015, Jonas and Greg Glassman, the CEO of fitness company CrossFit, had a heated disagreement over Twitter after the latter tweeted a picture of a parody of Coca-Cola ad that read, “Open diabetes,” along with the caption, “Make sure you pour some out for your dead homies.”
Jonas found the picture offensive, tweeting back at CrossFit: “This is not cool. Please know and understand the difference between type one and type [two] diabetes before making ignorant comments.”
He also implored the company to have “sensitivity to all disease, and proper education on the cause and day to day battle.” CrossFit fired back, both stating that they know the difference between the two and retweeting a photo of Nick at a Coca-Cola event.
Those days behind, the double-platinum singer of “Jealous,” finds a lot to be grateful for.
He doesn’t allow his disease to control his life, instead using it as a motivating factor to achieve as much as he possibly can. In the last year, Jonas has toured with Maroon 5 and on his own, released an album, was named one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive, and started an artist-centered record studio with Demi Lovato and their manager Phil McIntyre.
You can visit the Beyond Type 1 here.