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Getting a grip on my type 2 diagnosis – Dave’s story

Dave Benson-Philips smiling at the beach

Dave Benson Philips

Diagnosed aged 55

I knew that type 2 diabetes happened a lot to people from African and Caribbean communities, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen to me.

Dave Benson Philips, 57 is a television presenter and entertainer and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes a few years ago whilst filming a new show. Here he takes us through what Black History Month means to him and his journey with managing his diabetes.



I knew that type 2 diabetes happened a lot to people from African and Caribbean communities, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen to me. 

My diagnosis is only a recent thing and was a real shock. For several years I had pre-diabetes and managed to keep things at bay. Then, three or four years ago, I was filming a show in a theatre and knocking back the Slush Puppies - I like my sugary snacks. That day, I remember it well. I got a tingling in the back of my legs and lost the use of them completely for a couple of weeks. That’s when the doctor said I’d stepped over the threshold and had type 2. It was really emotional. When I started this journey, I was nearly 19st. I’ve lost more than 6st over two years. Before I lost weight, I also had a minor heart attack. 


Journey with diabetes

Managing through Covid

The coronavirus lockdown helped with my weight loss. Before, I’d be in the car, driving to shows and eating rubbish. I’d have pasties at service stations and sugary fizzy drinks. During lockdown, I was at home, eating well with my family and walking every day by the seaside.

My sister has type 1 diabetes and, with five of us kids at home, my mum would cook different food for her. Now that I manage my condition primarily with diet, my wife, son and I all eat the same kinds of healthy foods at home. It’s when I’m on the road that it’s hard. When you’re touring and performing, you’re eating other people’s food. 

During the pandemic, I was encouraging Black people to have the coronavirus vaccine because of the increased risk of complications from the virus, especially for people with diabetes. I’m now hoping to make a short film with Diabetes UK for people like me who have recently discovered they have type 2. I’ve seen other content on YouTube that just hasn’t been done with the production values, care and attention that it needs. I don’t know if I’m reaching people, but I hope so. 

Black History Month

As a person who entertains kids and who happens to be Black, I wonder if history will write about me. I’m hoping I’ve left enough of a mark. 

When I was growing up, we didn’t have a Black History Month, and that’s why it’s always been important to me.

To some people, we were not meant to be there. To others, we were simply surplus to the world’s requirements. At school, if we were told anything about Black people, it was that, as a populous, we were slaves. 

The only place we really learned about positive Black influence was in music, but that was pretty much it. I remember asking my teachers about certain Black people that I’d read about and them not knowing about them. The majority of people I went to school with were white, so it was never really tackled. 

Things are now changing. To have this thing where we annually do a Black History Month is wonderful. 

It would be lovely to think we’ll soon have the awareness of Black history and the positive stories we deserve.

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