Basketball Legend Earl "The Pearl" Monroe develops healthy game plan for diabetes

April 13, 2010 9:44:01 AM PDT
Basketball legend Earl "The Pearl" Monroe has teamed up with Merck to challenge restaurants in Chicago and several other cities to create diabetes-friendly menu items.

Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1998, Earl has learned how to maintain a diabetes-friendly lifestyle with a healthy diet and regular exercise, and he aims to inspire others to do the same by making a few small changes in their daily lives, including making smart choices while dining out.

More than one-third of Americans' daily calorie intake comes from food eaten outside the home, including sit-down restaurants and fast-food establishments. The more than 20 million people in the U.S. who have type 2 diabetes not only have a lot to learn about how to shop for and prepare foods that are diabetes-friendly, but also are faced with the challenge of identifying healthy meal options when dining out. Diabetes Restaurant Month is a program that strives to educate people with diabetes about the importance of making more informed dietary choices when eating out.

"Since being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 12 years ago, I learned that taking small steps towards a healthier lifestyle, including diet and exercise, can help keep the disease under control," said Earl. "Now, I'm working to show people with diabetes that it's possible to enjoy foods at our favorite restaurants and stay healthy at the same time."

Earl encourages Chicago diners to visit five local restaurants and to try featured diabetes-friendly dishes. Participating restaurants have created delicious diabetes-friendly dishes with the help of a registered dietician and an endocrinologist. A healthy diet is a key component of a diabetes-friendly lifestyle, and Earl encourages people to learn how to make smart choices when eating out. Visit for useful tips for dining out and getting active as well as some of Earl's favorite diabetes-friendly recipes.

Here are the Chicago restaurants participating in Diabetes Restaurant Month:

Adobo Grill Wicker Park
2005 W. Division Street
Chicago 773-252-9990

Baba's Village
310A S Canal St

Butch McGuire's
20 W. Division Street

1509 E 53rd St,

Chutney Joe's
511 S. State St.
(312) 341-9755

About Earl "The Pearl" Monroe

A native of South Philadelphia, Earl "The Pearl" Monroe began his professional basketball career in 1967 and went on to dazzle fans and players in Baltimore and New York for 13 years with his on-court moves. For 9 of those 13 years he played for a league whom he led to the championship in 1973. His flair and showmanship on the court will forever be remembered by many. He infused basketball with art and finesse, and his distinctive style changed the way professional basketball is played.

Now 65 years old, Earl Monroe is aiming to change the way people think about staying healthy with diabetes. Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes himself, Earl is working with Merck on the Diabetes Restaurant Month program to challenge local restaurants to make popular menu items diabetes friendly. Earl knows first-hand how difficult making healthy diet and lifestyle changes can be for people with type 2 diabetes. He has made it his goal to show people how to make small changes and smart choices to help manage their condition, such as getting active and making smart food choices when dining out.

The 4-time basketball hall-of-famer Bartram High School in Philadelphia, where he originated his legendary moves on the asphalt playgrounds. He attended Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, and as a senior, led his team to an NCAA Division II title while averaging 41.5 points.

About Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, the hormone needed to convert sugar into energy, causing an elevated amount of sugar in the blood. The disease is diagnosed by consistently elevated levels of blood sugar, or glucose. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is one of the fastest growing healthcare problems in the country. Nearly 24 million people in the United States (8 percent of the population) have diabetes, and 90 to 95 percent of these cases are type 2 diabetes. It is estimated that one in three Americans born in 2000 will develop diabetes sometime during their lifetimes.