My Story: 28-Year-Old Diagnosed With Prediabetes Discovers “It’s Not About What You Look Like”

Marrion Johnson Jr

Photo: Marrion Johnson, Jr.

It took reading an article about a young Black man diagnosed with type-1 diabetes and learning about a relative’s type 2 diagnosis to send Marrion Johnson Jr. to the doctor’s office curious about his blood-sugar levels.

Twenty-eight and fit, it didn’t fully dawn on Johnson that he could be at risk for diabetes himself. In fact, he exercises regularly and has a muscular frame to show for it. Isn’t that enough to keep the diabetes away?

Not quite. After the doctor ran some tests, Johnson was diagnosed with prediabetes – a precursor to the type 2 form of the disease.

“[The doctor] said my blood sugar was higher than normal. It wasn’t anything wild but noteworthy,” Johnson said, recalling his January 2017 doctor’s visit.

Though a little discouraged by the news at first because he does work out regularly as a way to prevent health issues, the doctor reassured Johnson that his prediabetes diagnoses is a good thing.

“He made me feel like it was a good thing that I was prediabetic because I have time to get my life in order,” Johnson added. “So I stopped eating so many sweets. Well, I’m eating sweets but in moderation. I stopped eating candy.”

Prediabetes is more of a warning than anything else, experts say. It allows time to switch up your diet quickly to avoid slipping into type 2 diabetes; a condition where your body no longer uses insulin properly. It’s the most common form of diabetes and can be hereditary. The disease disproportionately affects African Americans with 13.2 percent of those 20 years or older having it.