Yvette Nicole Brown got diabetes ‘by eating a lot of donuts’ on the Community set


I know Yvette Nicole Brown mostly from Community but also from her guest appearances, particularly on Talking Dead. She’s one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter as she shares my political views and calls people out expertly. Yvette was on a podcast called Hypochondriactor where she opened up about the fact that she has type 2 diabetes. She said she got it from eating too many donuts on the set of Community. Donuts were just always available and she became addicted to sugar. The weight piled on and she ate so many she gave herself diabetes (her words). Here’s more, thanks to People Magazine:

[Yvette Nicole Brown] explained on Sean Hayes and Dr. Priyanka Wali’s podcast Hypochondriactor that she was “excessively eating sugar” during the lengthy, 16-hour days of filming on the NBC comedy.

“I got diabetes, or gave myself diabetes, by eating a lot of donuts on the set of Community,” Brown said. “I spent a lot of time at the craft services table, and I watched myself get bigger and bigger. And if you watch the show, you can see me get bigger and bigger. And I got a pre-diabetes diagnosis maybe in season one, and then by season three it was full-blown diabetes.”

Wali then reassured Brown that as a physician, she doesn’t believe “it’s people’s faults that they contract diabetes.”

“We live in a society right now where one of the most addictive substances in the world is completely legal and socially accepted. I do believe sugar is the tobacco of our generation,” Wali said. “And so it’s not your fault that there were doughnuts lying around.”

“So when people say, type 2 diabetes is the one you give to yourself, I completely disagree,” she continued. “I think we’re living in a very toxic food society and it’s not our faults that we’re contracting diabetes.”

Brown thanked her for that clarification, and agreed that sugar is an “addiction.”

“I swear I would walk past the donuts and go, ‘You don’t have to eat five,’ and my body would go, ‘Yes, you do.’ So I can imagine that it calls you the way drugs call the people that are addicted … I know that when I was on Community, I was excessively eating sugar.”

“I remember my skin got really dry,” she said of her symptoms. “Everything was just itchy. I was scratchy and itchy, and I couldn’t put enough lotion on, but I never lost weight, I gained weight, and was thirsty.”

“Thankfully I’m not in a situation now where I have that much time on set, and I’m not walking by delicious donuts and cakes and whatever all day,” she said. “I believe everything in moderation. So I’m not someone that’s like, ‘I’m never going to have a piece of cake,’ but I don’t have a whole cake. And I don’t have a whole cake every day, or every week. And if I say, I want to go to Cheesecake Factory and I’m going to get this cheesecake, then I’ll make sure that I use the treadmill for an extra hour that day to try to burn off some of the sugar that’s now in my body, drink more water, and other simple things you can do.”

[From People]

I hope Yvette is doing ok now and I like her explanation of sensibly managing her diabetes by balancing out treats with exercise. As someone with a sugar addiction this rang true to me and was a wakeup call! I always have chocolate and ice cream in my house. I have some every day and when I’m stressed out I eat too much of it. I use the excuse that I exercise and also that I’ve been sober for years. At least I’m not drinking, but eating a bunch of junk food is not good for my health either. I’ve struggled with how to change my diet but a low GI-index diet, similar to one diabetics eat, might be a good start.

Also I really like how Dr. Wali explained that “sugar is the tobacco of our generation.” It’s in almost everything and it’s true that our food society is toxic. Giving up entire food groups and going without food is not healthy, like we just heard from Raven-Symone, while indulging too much can become an addiction with serious consequences. I wish that our food culture was more like in some parts of Europe, with local, seasonal foods available affordably.

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27 Responses to “Yvette Nicole Brown got diabetes ‘by eating a lot of donuts’ on the Community set”

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  1. Notsusan says:

    This one post has really got me thinking about my relationship with sugar and how I can change it. Thanks so much for sharing! and Celebitchy thanks for the thoughtfulness of your approach to celebrity news and information, always something here that gets in your head.

  2. olliesmom says:

    I love her because she’s hillarious and she’s a fellow Walking Dead superfan. I know many people do not care for her when she’s on The Talking Dead, but I love her and her notebook. She predicted Rickshonne way before any of us saw that coming and she had the notes from way back.

    Diabetes is a complex disease. It’s very genetic driven and that coupled with not eating right and not exercising will cause you to develop it and develop it earlier than you normally would have. But the good news is that it is very controllable.

  3. Mel says:

    Sigh.. while excessive sugar isn’t good for you ,it doesn’t give you diabetes and I can’t believe a Dr. actually co-signed this nonsense. I’m sorry she has diabetes but the leading causes are being overweight/ obese, genetics/ family history and a sedentary lifestyle. People are born with it, come on.

    • Nicole says:

      Yes, I agree. Our lifestyle choices lead to diabetes. Sugary foods are often cheaper and easier to obtain, but ultimately, as an adult, it’s our choice. Signed by a sugar addict that knows what she is putting in her mouth.

    • girl_ninja says:

      Sigh…actually not everyone with type 2 diabetes is overweight. Relax Judgy McJudgerson.

      • Mel says:

        Uhm, no one said all diabetics are overweight and even if they are, it doesn’t mean they should be judged for it. I copied and wrote the leading causes. Sugar isn’t one of them specifically. Reading is fundamental.

    • LadyMTL says:

      My MD told me this same thing when I mentioned to him that my mother was worried about me becoming diabetic, because she is / my father is / my grandfather was (even though I have a healthy weight and am moderately active.) He said sugar itself does not cause diabetes…it can make you gain weight, which in turn makes you more at risk of developing diabetes. Not all type 2 diabetics are overweight, of course, but it is a big risk factor.

      Anyway, all that to say that I have cut back on my refined sugar intake, but I’ll be buried with a nice hunk of dark chocolate lol.

    • Horse Marine says:

      People are born with type 1, not type 2.

      And excessive sugar consumption is most definitely a factor in the development of type 2 diabetes.

    • North of Boston says:

      Yes, you’re right, sugar or eating a lot of sugar will not cause diabetes (any type). You can eat all the sugary foods you want and sit on your couch all day … and if you don’t have the genetic components for diabetes you’re not going to develop diabetes.

      If you DO have the genetic factors that predispose you to T2 diabetes, eating a high carb diet and leading a sedentary lifestyle can cause the obvious symptoms of diabetes to show up faster than they might have otherwise but a) the insulin resistance and other metabolic disorder stuff that’s part of having T2D would have been in place long before any diagnosis and b) you might have developed T2D anyway no matter what your diet and exercise routine was.

      But great for YNB that she’s taking steps to stay healthy! I’ve loved her since Community :)

    • bettyrose says:

      Glad I didn’t have to be the one to say this. My SO developed type-2 in his 30s with a relatively healthy diet. I’m convinced it’s genetics, but we don’t hear about well managed type-2. Once developed, a bad diet will kill you while pummeling you with numerous horrors along the way, so we associate diabetes with a bad diet. But plenty of people have shitty diets and never develop diabetes.

    • Natasha says:

      Reading comprehension is even more fundamental. Sugar causes weight gain which is what leads to T2D more often than not. What a weird thing to defend and be a jerk to people about.

  4. Lala11_7 says:

    I gave myself Gout by being OBSESSED with Salmon for 2 years & eating it ALMOST everyday! So I believe it….

  5. Christa says:

    I agree that our good culture is toxic. I switched to plant based about 6 months ago and it’s hard to eat enough calories without calorie dense foods. I eat chocolate and that helps. I just cannot eat non stop. I need a break. I have crap to do and don’t want my life to revolve around being hungry. As a side, I feel better, never get an after dinner food coma and have less pain and stiffness, it’s totally worth it.

    • Jordana says:

      I went plant based 8 years ago, and I’ve never felt better @Christa!
      From the research I’ve seen around type 2 diabetes, it can be obtain, and it can be cured. Sugar is oftened blamed, but it’s not sugars fault! This type of messaging from a celeb and her “doctor” is not telling the whole story. I hope people do their own research before concluding “eat sugar= gets diabetes”

  6. Shirl says:

    I used to have to have chocolate or something sweet daily, then I made a deal with myself to only eat sweets on the weekend. That seemed to work, I don’t crave it weekdays now because I know it’s not an option. I don’t go crazy on the weekends either but just knowing I can eat guilt free sweets Sat/Sun really helps!

  7. Jess says:

    She had gastric sleeve surgery the last season of community in effort to change her health.

  8. CJW says:

    I love her, and I am currently in a Community loop, I put it on every night to go to sleep to.

  9. Ellie says:

    I absolutely love Community and I love her. I hadn’t noticed she was gaining weight on the show, but I have noticed that she looks different now – she looks so much younger. I’d honestly wondered if on the show they put her in baggier clothing and did her hair and makeup that way to accentuate that her character is supposed to be older than the other characters.

    I don’t know enough about Type II diabetes to comment on whether she gave it to her self, but I’m glad she’s feeling healthier now and she looks great.

  10. Sara says:

    This doc is absolutely wrong. Type 2 is often completely controllable with lifestyle changes and is mostly the result of insulin resistance caused primarily by excessive visceral fat around the pancreas and surrounding organs that impairs insulin production together with an impaired cellular-level ability to absorb and metabolize and process insulin (crude explanation, sorry). Get rid of the excess visceral fat, improve your cellular-level ability to process insulin (exercise and improved diet help there), and you have a good chance of bringing your blood sugar way down and keeping it down.

    You choose what to eat. Supervised fasting and relatively fast weight loss have been shown in good studies to cause radical improvement in type 2. I am really fed up–pun intended–with these excuses (from physicians like this one!!) that you are a helpless pawn of your food environment. You choose what to eat. Choose better. You are responsible for yourself.

    • Sel says:

      Your fatphobia is coming across loud and clear there. If it were as simple as people making “better choices”, surely no one would be overweight? I find your comment deeply offensive.

      • Jaded says:

        This is not a case of fat phobia. Causes include weight — the more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells become to insulin. Inactivity — the less active you are, the greater your risk. Physical activity helps you control your weight, uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin. Family history — your risk increases if a parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes. Age — your risk increases as you get older. This may be because you tend to exercise less, lose muscle mass and gain weight as you age. But type 2 diabetes is also increasing among children, adolescents and younger adults due in no small part to poor diet and lack of exercise.

  11. Kkat says:

    She got a gastric sleeve, she should have gotten a RnY gastric bypass.
    That surgery is considered a cure for type two
    98% will go into permanent remission and the other two percent will be able to go off meds/ insulin eventually.

    My mom and X husband were both taking insulin 4 times a day, and my sister was taking medication.
    They all had it and none of them are on insulin or medication now.
    I got the surgery, I had gained a huge amount of weight on psych meds and no diet worked for me.
    And by not work, I could be eating 1200 calories a day and doing an hour of exercise and I would not lose.
    Psych meds are a bitch.

    But I lost 180# in about 9 months, and now I don’t need to worry about getting type two.
    My numbers are excellent, I recently had labs.
    It very much runs in my family, so that was a big factor in my getting that particular surgery.

    But eating sugar does not cause type two, a lot of other factors are involved. The biggest is genetics.

    Also there are cases where covid can cause a type of type two, it can attack the pancreas and destroy the cells that produce insulin
    We’ve had a few cases at my hospital.

    I’m on a IR surgical response team, so we primarily get strokes, clots, embolisms, dialysis preps ect, all which have gone wayyyyyy up because of secondary covid

  12. The Recluse says:

    I was warned that if I didn’t cut back on sugar/carbohydrates I ran the risk of developing diabetes. That was about a year ago. I did my check up blood draw last week and will find out the results in about a month at my follow up appointment. Fingers crossed. I have cut back on sugar, using alternative sugars like Monkfruit and Stevia when I do use a sweetener in my tea. I have a soda maybe once a week, usually at the now re-opened movies. I limit my sweet treats to low sugar items. I can’t imagine eating 5 donuts in one go, unless they are those fluffy glazed ones, but even then that was still more sugar at one go than I could ever handle. Currently, I let myself have cake donuts, 2 at a sitting with my tea, once every two weeks – a special treat to keep me on the wagon. I have a pedal machine under my desk and work on it for at least an hour a day and then every night I ride a stationary bike until I burn off 600 calories. I’ve managed to lose nearly 15 pounds so far.
    Hoping for a Nicole to get her health completely back. She’s a treasure.

  13. Onomo says:

    My relative is quite thin and muscular and developed diabetes. I don’t think diabetes is caused by sugar only but stress on top of that – like air pollution, covid, cushing’s disease, even poverty. And Yvette Nicole Brown was really poor when she first moved to Hollywood, which was not her fault.

    I feel like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates should have diabetes if it were just sugar…

  14. Serinekat says:

    OMG, this is not how you get type 2. Yes everyone says food is what does it but food alone does not make you a type 2. You are born with the T2 gene which just lays there until something wakes it up like trauma, age, weight, diet, etc. Once you have T2 you can lessen your needs for insulin by eating low carb and low glucose.
    I’m a T1 and a T2 diabetic. I hate how much false information is out there. T2s should not be shamed.

  15. Serinekat says:

    I love reading these comments like you all think you are Endocrinologists. Please stop you guys. These comments are harmful. Don’t spread information on diabetes unless you have a PHD and are a practicing Endocrinologist and/or Diabetes Educator. The knowledge of this disease in all its forms is rapidly changing.
    Also sugar and food addiction are REAL. They hit the same spots in the brain and when compared side by side with a heroin hit the brain lights up just the same with a doughnut. Not everyone carries that addictive gene but for those of us who do we can certainly become addicted to food.