Tom Hanks vows to cast away big roles after diabetes diagnosis - Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 10 October

Weight gain happens instantaneously in the movies. Orson Welles transformed from a svelte young newspaper editor to a bloated recluse in Citizen Kane. Robert De Niro metamorphosed from a wiry world champion boxer to a jowly mess in Raging Bull.


Tom Hanks vows to cast away big roles after diabetes diagnosis

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 10 October


Henry Hepburn

Weight gain happens instantaneously in the movies. Orson Welles transformed from a svelte young newspaper editor to a bloated recluse in Citizen Kane. Robert De Niro metamorphosed from a wiry world champion boxer to a jowly mess in Raging Bull.

But the punishing regimes stars go through to achieve these results are easily ignored as audiences get pulled into the stories. Actors pile on the pounds in a matter of months – and in doing so may subject their body to lasting damage.

Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks, who put on weight for films such as Cast Away and A League of Their Own, has vowed never to do it again after revealing that he had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

“I’ve talked to a number of actors who have gained weight for roles and – just out of the sheer physical toll on one’s knees and shoulders – no one wants to do it again,” said Hanks, 57, in a BBC interview. “I think that’s more or less a young man’s game.”

In type 2 diabetes the body either does not produce enough insulin or resists the hormone, which regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. The condition is linked to family history, age and ethnic background. People are more likely to get type 2 diabetes if they are overweight.

Hanks has had symptoms such as high blood sugar since the age of 36. Speaking at a press conference for his new film, Captain Phillips, he said: “Gaining and losing of weight may have had something to do with this, because you eat so much bad food and you don’t get any exercise when you’re heavy.

“But I think I was genetically inclined to get it and I think it actually goes back to a lifestyle I’ve been leading ever since I was seven years old, as opposed to 36.”

Hanks, who has described diabetes as “part of life” and stressed that he felt “just fine”, later told the BBC that pizza had been crucial when he was gaining weight for roles. “Pizza is the most delightful thing ever invented and it’s – for me – diabolically dangerous.”



Questions

1.) What are the symptoms of diabetes and how do people manage the disease?
2.) Can you think of any other dangers associated with extreme weight loss or weight gain?
3.) Why is it important for celebrities like Tom Hanks to speak out about health issues?
4.) How healthy do you think your diet is? What changes could you make to improve it?


Related resources


Homeostasis

  • An introductory PowerPoint presentation on how the body regulates itself, which leads to an explanation and questions on diabetes.

Controlling glucose

  • Students create an information leaflet on type 1 diabetes to show their understanding of the condition.

Healthy eating

  • Promote the benefits of a balanced diet by exploring food groups, pyramids and labelling with this colourful PowerPoint presentation.

Healthy-eating sketch

  • Students portray the negative effects of junk food in this reality-TV-inspired improvisation activity.

Further news resources


First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

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