Salsa Singer Gives Voice to Type 2 Awareness
Gilberto Santa Rosa learns how to live with—and talk about—diabetes
If you ask Gilberto Santa Rosa what his favorite healthy food is, he will chuckle.
"¡Ay caramba! ... I don't know. Gosh, this is the first time someone has asked me that," he says. And that, right there, is something he'd like to change. The 51-year-old from San Juan, Puerto Rico, is internationally known as "The Gentleman of Salsa," but he's also acquiring a growing reputation for speaking out about his type 2 diabetes (he was diagnosed about eight years ago). Now Santa Rosa has partnered with the American Diabetes Association as a Latino Ambassador, in time for American Diabetes Month® in November.
Santa Rosa believes his renown as the salsa singer with the most No. 1 albums on the Billboard Tropical Albums chart makes him the perfect spokesman to let the Latino community know that "diabetes doesn't stop" and, in fact, affects Latinos at 1.7 times the rate of non-Hispanic whites. As part of the Association's American Diabetes Month initiatives, Santa Rosa will spread awareness and promote diabetes education with his audience and beyond.
"This is a nice opportunity to be part of a team and being able to bring the message to people," he says. "It is important to support and help because people need to get informed and enjoy their life, even though they have diabetes."
Santa Rosa knows that as well as anyone. As a touring musician, he manages his diabetes mostly through diet and medication. He says it's challenging—especially because finding time to exercise is difficult. "This is the part I need to improve," he says. But he says he's working hard to do so, and he wants other Latinos with diabetes to do the same.
"My main advice is always: Go to the doctor and get informed about your illness, because every patient is different and every person has a different case," he says. "So get informed and you'll have a healthy life."
Maria Cruz contributed to this article.