Nick Jonas and Top Chef Alum Sam Talbot Fight Back Against Diabetes Misconceptions

07/08/2015 at 05:41 PM ET

Nick Jonas and Sam Talbot
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“What did you eat that gave you diabetes?”

In an emotional statement, Nick Jonas cites one of many ignorant questions people ask him about having type 1 diabetes, a chronic autoimmune condition with no known cause or cure. Widespread misconceptions about the diseasewhich many conflate with type 2 diabetesis just one of the reasons that Jonas is teaming up with former Top Chef contestant Sam Talbot, who also has type 1, and others to launch Beyond Type 1, a non-profit dedicated to raising diabetes awareness and eradicating stigma.

“Nearly ten years ago my life changed dramatically when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes,” Jonas says about his 2005 diagnosis at age 22. “Since then, I learned how to manage and live well with this disease and made it my mission to speak openly about it with the hope of helping others deal with the struggles of managing diabetes in their own life.”

"Nearly ten years ago my life changed dramatically when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Since then, I learned how to manage and live well with this disease and made it my mission to speak openly about it with the hope of helping others deal with the struggles of managing diabetes in their own life. When I share my personal story, the questions I most often hear are, "What did you eat that gave you diabetes?" or "Does that mean you were lazy as a kid?" Although it's been difficult to deal with the misinformation out there, I always found a way to not let the lack of knowledge surrounding diabetes affect me. I can't do that any longer, and that is why I'm excited to join Juliet, Sarah and Sam in BEYOND TYPE 1. With BEYOND TYPE 1, we will create a community for diabetics where they can share real-life stories about how they are living beyond Type 1 diabetes, and how they have shown that living with the disease has not slowed them down. Sometimes, something happens in your life and you wonder what good can come of it – these stories will surprise some people and they are meant to. We need to eradicate the stigma that comes from having a chronic illness. We have a long way to go in the education of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and in that lack of knowledge is the even harsher reality that we are still very far from a cure. BEYOND TYPE 1 will also focus on raising funds for research to find a cure. I am confident we will get there someday, but it will take a lot of people doing what they can to help. We are strong together. My name is Nick and this is how I live beyond." #T1D #BeyondType1 #Type1 #Type1Diabetes #Diabetes #DailyDTalk #LivingWithDiabetes #EndT1D #T1DVoice #IamT1D #TypeHappy #WeAreNotWaiting #causes #change #activism #charity #DoGood #philanthropy #awareness #advocacy #nonprofit #ChangingDiabetes #inspiration #attitude #smile #hero #healthy #brave #type1warriors #livebeyond

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Jonas is well-versed in the unique struggles and misconceptions facing people living with type 1. Just last week, the singer got into a heated Twitter back-and-forth with the fitness company CrossFit, which Tweeted a fake Coke advertisement that read “Open Diabetes.”

“Although it’s been difficult to deal with the misinformation out there, I always found a way to not let the lack of knowledge surrounding diabetes affect me,” Jonas says. “I can’t do it anymore.”

Top Chef alum Sam Talbot, who was diagnosed at age 12, is joining the initiative as well, which will not only work to spread awareness but also raise funds for research to find a cure.

“Living with type 1 practically my whole life, I have always wanted to erase the black cloud and the stigma that goes along with the word ‘diabetes,'” Talbot opens up to PEOPLE. “It is a way of life for me, not a hindrance but a lens through which I see the world and it’s important to not only educate but really celebrate the people affected.”

The process will be anything but easy.

“We have a long way to go in the education of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and in that lack of knowledge is the even harsher reality that we are still very far from a cure,” Jonas says. “I am confident we will get there someday, but it will take a lot of people doing what they can to help. We are strong together.”

— Maria Yagoda, @mariayagoda

FILED UNDER: Health , Stars & Chefs , Top Chef

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Showing 7 comments

moonie on

Sam is still sexy! Jonas, not so much!

Colleen S. on

You might want to edit the part about Nick’s age when diagnosed. Since he’s the same age as my sister, it’s impossible for him to have been 22 in 2005, when he’s 22 right now.

Gina on

I think the site is an awesome idea, I’m a type 1 myself.

Anonymous on

Nick really does seem to do a lot for people struggling with diabetes.

Danielle Cho on

I’m glad Nick made a comment. I was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes and put on Metformin on last year. I began the ADA diet and followed it 100% for a few weeks and could not get my blood sugar to go below 140. I asked my doctor what I could do and he said I would be on metformin my whole life – until I graduated to insulin. I lost hope I could do anything besides just take meds. Then, I found the Diabetes Destroyer book (diabetesdestroyed.info ) It made sense and opened my eyes to the world of natural diabetes treatment. I started to implement new methods the very next day. I lost over 30 pounds and 6 inches on my waist in a month. I have more than enough energy to workout twice and day and keep going. I almost fell for the trap the pharms have set up for people like us, but I got lucky. Type 2 can be fought through these natural methods, but Type 1 diabetics have much less option.

Jeanette on

Nick Jonas Was Diagnosed at Age 13 with diabetes People needs to fact check better

Barbara on

We should be fighting misconceptions about all types of diabetes, not just Type 1. As a Type 2, I did not “give” myself diabetes either. I ate healthier and exercised because I knew of my multi-generational family history of it. As my Dr. said, “sometimes you can’t overcome the DNA” There is a lot of shaming and blaming and finger pointing at Type 2 diabetics, sometimes by Type 1’s. We should all be in the fight for a cure together !

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