Two-time Academy Award winner and Hollywood darling tom hanks can seemingly do no wrong—unless, that is, you ask the actor himself. In a surprisingly candid interview with RadioTimes, Hanks described himself as “a total idiot” for making a major health mistake that ultimately caused the star to be diagnosed with diabetes. Read on to learn which poor health habit the actor now deeply regrets, and how he surprised fans by following doctor’s orders.
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Appearing on the late show with David Letterman in 2013, Hanks said the news of his diabetes came as a big surprise—though it arguably should have come as no surprise at all. “I went to the doctor, and he said, ‘You know those high blood sugar numbers you’ve been dealing with since you were 36? Well, you’ve graduated! You’ve got type 2 diabetes, young man,’” Hanks recounted.
Up until then, the Sleepless in Seattle star had made only modest attempts to slow the progression of his pre-diabetes through his diet. “I thought I could avoid it by removing the buns from my cheeseburgers,” he told RadioTimes. “Well, it takes a little bit more than that.”
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Hanks says his health habits were an indisputable cause of his rising blood sugar levels. “I’m part of the lazy American generation that has blindly kept dancing through the party and now finds ourselves with a malady,” the actor told RadioTimes. “I was heavy. You’ve seen me in movies, you know what I looked like. I was a total idiot.”
Experts advise that if, like Hanks, you are diagnosed as pre-diabetic, losing between five and 10 percent of your body weight may help to reverse the course of your illness. In fact, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, doing so can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.
Hanks says that despite the seriousness of his diagnosis, his doctor was optimistic that change was possible—but only if the actor made sweeping changes to his health habits. “My doctor says if I can hit a target weight, I will not have type 2 diabetes anymore,” Hanks told Letterman in 2013.
However, the splash star was skeptical that he could make significant enough changes to reverse his illness at the time. “I’m going to have type 2 diabetes then, because there is no way I can weigh [what I weighed] in high school,” he said, laughing.
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Since that interview, it seems the Forrest Gump actor has had a change of heart. No longer accepting his diabetes as inevitable, he now says he works diligently to maintain a healthy weight and keep his blood sugar levels in check. “I try to get, every single day, one hour of activity. That can be anything from a treadmill or a walk or a hike with a dog, but it has to be one hour every single day,” he told Phoebe Robinson on the podcast Sooo Many White Guys in 2018. “I watch what I eat to a point of boredom, and every now and then I cheat to the point of self loathing,” he added, noting that he blames his diagnosis both on genes and “the horrible lifestyle I led of eating anything.”
It appears, however, that all his hard work has paid off. While hitting the red carpet in Cannes for a screening of his new film, elvis, fans noticed that Hanks was more slender than ever. Though managing weight is just one facet of diabetes management, for Hanks, it’s a big step in the right direction.
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