Pop superstar Nick Jonas is already an inspiration to the millions of teens and 'tweens' who hang on every lyric sung by his band the Jonas Brothers.
But Jonas, who suffers from type 1 diabetes, hopes a three-year partnership he’s created with Bayer HealthCare will serve as an inspiration to others living with this disease.
“When I was first diagnosed, I did think, 'Why me?'” Jonas said Wednesday on "FOX & Friends," where he announced his partnership. “I had a great medical history. I had never stayed in the hospital before. I didn’t know anybody with diabetes. So it was a shock.”
Jonas’ mother, Denise Jonas, who joined him on "FOX & Friends," said her son felt alone after learning of his diagnosis because there was no one to offer him guidance.
“He really didn’t have anybody to look to,” she said. “So we really want to help Nick be that inspiration.”
For its part, Bayer has donated money to the Jonas Brothers' foundation, ChangeForTheChildren.org, to help support the musician’s awareness campaign.
As one-third of the pop group that also includes his brothers Kevin and Joe, Jonas was busy touring — playing elementary and middle schools — when he received his diabetes diagnosis in 2005 at age 13.
“I started to see some weight loss, I was thirsty all the time and I kind of had a bad attitude,” said Jonas, who is now 15. “I lost 15 pounds in two weeks and my blood sugar was 790-something so they put me in the hospital for two or three days, and gave me a crash course on everything I needed to know.”
To put Jonas’ blood sugar level in perspective, a normal level is about 100, said Dr. David Simmons, director of diabetes care and medical and clinical affairs for Bayer. A blood sugar of 790 is “dangerous to the point that, before there was insulin, people died,” Simmons said.
Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which the pancreas does not make enough insulin. About 15,000 people, mostly juveniles, are diagnosed with the condition each year. Symptoms of the disease include weight loss, thirst and confusion, said Dr. Manny Alvarez, managing editor of health for FOXNews.com.
Insulin plays a key role in moving glucose into the cells of the body's tissues. Cells use glucose as a source of energy. Lacking insulin, the bodies of type 1 diabetics are unable to move glucose into the cells, which can cause an overload in the bloodstream. Because of this, they have to limit their consumption of sugar and carbohydrates, which are converted by the body into glucose.
Denise Jonas said life for her family has changed since the diagnosis.
“Now I have to check everything that is prepared for Nicholas,” she said. “I have to check every carbohydrate, every ingredient and make sure it’s balanced out with what the doctor says he should be eating, and we’re checking his blood sugar constantly.”
Jonas said his whirlwind touring schedule sometimes makes it difficult to manage his condition.
“It is hard, but I’ve always had it in my heart to be an inspiration and a positive voice of encouragement,” he said. “So the first time I heard someone say 'thanks for sharing,' I thought if I can use this as an opportunity to inspire people, then it’s all worth it.”