Wasim Akram on Living with Diabetes

Wasim Akram shares his experience of being diagnosed with diabetes while being an active cricketer

Wasim Akram
Picture Courtesy: "Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena", COLORS

Wasim Akram is a famous cricketer who leads an active despite being diabetic. His experience continues to be an inspiration to all, diabetics as well as non-diabetics.

You were diagnosed with diabetes at 31—the peak of your career. What was your initial reaction?

I was low, really down. I was stressed. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. Normally, it was after 50 that people get diabetes. I was an active person. I kept asking God – why me? It took me six weeks to get out of it.

Considering you were a sports person and led an active life always, what, according to you, were the factors that resulted in your diabetes?

It can happen to anyone, but in the subcontinent people are not aware of its implications. When they are diagnosed with diabetes they think their life is over. This is a feature of the subcontinent. We lack awareness. Our lifestyle, our eating habits all lead to it. Government campaigns to spread awareness are missing. Factors leading to it could be anything, but the awareness — that with a controlled and a disciplined lifestyle one can lead a normal life — is not there.

It appears that just keeping your weight in control is not a complete insurance against diabetes. There are psychological/physiological factors also at play, which could put you at risk. What is your opinion?

Today, stressful living is one of the chief causes of diabetes. The other contributory factor is our lifestyle where physical activity is replaced by motorcars, computers and TVs.

According to the World Health Organization, India is the diabetes capital of the world. Why do you think diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions in India?

The reasons are the same all over the subcontinent. Our cultures and lifestyles are similar.

How is the situation in Pakistan? Is it as grim as in India?

In our part of the world, women contract diabetes at an early age and they keep quiet about it in the fear that no one will marry them. This can also be attributed to lack of awareness.

How have you managed to keep your diabetes in control? What lifestyle changes have you introduced in your day-to-day routine after you were detected with diabetes?

When I am at home I have a fixed routine; I go to the gym, my diet is restricted and I do cardio in the evening for an hour.

Considering you are a sports icon and an international celebrity, did you have any hesitation about coming out in the open with your diabetes since people still attach some stigma to a disease?

Initially people told me to be quiet and not announce it to the world, but I felt that if I kept quiet about it I wouldn’t be able to inform people about dealing with it. Once I accepted that I had it, I could live my life actively even pursuing my cricket as before.

I wanted to help people become aware of the disease and what is available to deal with it. I took 250 wickets after I was diagnosed with diabetes. I monitor my sugar levels every second day before breakfast and after lunch. If I am stressed about something I check my sugar to see how it is affected by stress. As I am in the know about what affects my sugar levels, I am more able to control it.

You have been involved in various awareness campaigns for diabetes. What led you to be in the vanguard to combat the spread of diabetes?

I see the way people react when they are diagnosed with diabetes. If children have it, their parents are deeply disturbed and this, in turn, stresses the child who cannot then deal with it. It is essential that parents are well-informed about it so they can keep calm and support their kids. Parents must have enough knowledge to be supportive and positive at the same time.

What is the best way of preventing the onset of diabetes?

I think it can be prevented only in children. Make sure they go out and play. I worry about my own children because they are fond of pizzas and McDonald’s. It’s OK to indulge in junk once in a while, but they must be involved in physical activity. They must set aside time to play outdoors.

What kind of psychological or emotional support do diabetics seek from other family members and friends?

To have people around who will be positive influences rather than treat you as “bechara” and who will help you avoid sugar and things that you should stay away from.

You have become the role model for diabetics around the world, what advice do you have for them that will give them moral strength and help them lead a normal, healthy life?

I would like to motivate people and help them by tackling the lack of awareness. I would tell people that if you have diabetes don’t blame yourself or anybody, fight it. Be healthy and deal with it. If you are insulin-dependent, take your shots thrice a day. Make changes in your lifestyle that incorporates exercise. Instead of the car, computer and a sedentary lifestyle, make yourself active, walk, and play outdoor games. You can control your sugar levels by monitoring them as I do.

India becoming capital of kidney disease

A majority of Indian are prone to kidney disease, only a handful of them know it. Most Indians are food lovers. Indian meal which contains oil, salts and fatty food leads to obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.

With 41 million Indians having diabetes, every fifth diabetic in the world is an Indian [Source: Medical Journal of the Association of physicians of India].

Diabetes and high blood pressure are the main causes of kidney diseases and are responsible for 50 to 60 per cent of new cases of kidney failure.

With such high prevalence of diabetes and high blood pressure, it is estimated that each year 300,000- 400,000 people develop kidney failure or end-stage kidney disease [ESKD].

—Bharat V Shah, MD, DNB [Nephrology], Mumbai


  • Keep weight, and diabetes under control.
  • Lifestyle modification which should include regular exercise and fibre-rich diet.
  • Check blood pressure regularly and keep it below 130/80 mm Hg.
  • Avoid frequent use of pain killers.

Simple tests like urine routine and blood tests [creatinine] help in early detection of kidney disease. All alternative therapies are not always safe as they may cause kidney disease.

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Lata Khubchandani
Lata Khubchandani is an English lecturer in Mumbai University. Writing was a hobby which took over life. She has written for newspapers, magazines and dotcoms all across the world. She has received two awards for Best Journalist in 2000 and 2002.


  1. asalam o alaikum
    here suhaib from pakistan, just 2 days ago i have diagnosed diabetes.. My father has also the same problem since 1990.. And my inspiration is my father.. I was also reading about wasim akram in my childhood while my father diagnosed about that.. Now i m 27… And going to marry soon insh Allah.. And now i got a lot of inspiration from my father and waseem akram… Just to change my life style with the grace of Allah Almighty

  2. I’m 28, was diagnosed diabetic when i was 23, its been 5 yrs, I was attached to my father a lot, and when he died, soon after about 3 months i was diagnosed, i understand when it comes to individuality.. its easy to manage and stuff..bcoz its only u involved, but now i’m facing a lot of difficulty in getting married.. what about the partner.. ? my diabetes is under control alhumdullilah (ALLAH’s grace), but yet, there has to be someone who can accept it. isn’t it ??

  3. i am 18 years old and suffering from diabetes from march 2010 six months have been passed but after knowing that wasim akram is also suffering from diabetes and he is living his life very well my all depression has gone and exercise is now my daily routine and my all fear from has gone and fighting against it and it,s my advice to all people who are suffering from diabetes that you got diabetes it dos not mean its the end of the world but it means its the start of the new one and last thing don,t misunderstood diabetes as a disease its not a disease its a situation where you have to keep you your body healthy.

  4. its 3:15 pm in muzaffarabad , pakistan and just 40 minutes earlier i ve been told that i ve Diabetes. , personally i know its just coz of my bad eating habbits, lack of outdoor stuff and stress factor but still knowing i ve Diabetes really draging me down and low. i ve followed wasim akram all is his career and even now i do follow his programes and i knew before that legend himself has it , i still remember wasim bhai once said that” people with diabetic who start caring abt themselves more, eventually give themselves a chance to live longer than a normal person, this interview really helped me a lot that i can control it and its not the end of world.

  5. iam 22 year old and 2 month ago on 24 feb i was diagnosed with diabetes.i was too stressed i thought the life is ending but as time passes i feel that a diabetic person can live his life with routine and precautions. i am an insulin dependent diabetic patient and i think i can leave my insulin bcoz my dose is small

  6. I am 35, two year ago suddenly my weight losing fast. On testing i found i had diabetes. Since then i am using ayurvedic and home medicine. i do exercise and yoga and nearly control i think awareness and precaution and food modification is the best way to fight it.

  7. I am 26 and Diabetic. Even i used to go gym before i got diagonised with it. I was Disturbed and stressed of it. I am newly married too. But iam fighting it and under control as much as i can. I think keeping active and regular Exercises like Cardio and Moderate weight training will keep u always under control which worked for me. I dont want to become Wasim akram but i should lead a successful life. Funny about this is even my diabetologist is diabetic for the past 40 years and he is 75 now. He is also one of my inspiration like wasim.


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