In the sunlit northern Virginia offices of the American Diabetes Association, Kevin Hagan shows me an engagement photo of himself and his wife. "She calls me her second husband," he jokes. Eight years ago—about a year after the picture was taken—Hagan was diagnosed with prediabetes. He had a high-stress job and was already on two blood-pressure medications, and his doctor told him he might not live to see 45. In response, Hagan changed his lifestyle and lost 120 pounds. Now, at 42, he looks like a completely different man from the one in the photograph, and to some extent he is: Although he still struggles to keep the weight off, he has learned how to take better care of himself.
He keeps nuts and cranberries handy to stave off cravings, and for a while he even had a personal trainer.
Kevin L. Hagan is the CEO of the American Diabetes Association. (Chet Susslin)So when on June 1 Hagan became CEO of the 75-year-old ADA, which works to help people prevent and manage diabetes as it also supports the search for a cure, the mission he undertook was personal as well as professional. One of his main goals, he tells me, is to try to promote greater understanding of the condition and its causes. With 29 million cases of diabetes in the United States and 86 million more people at risk with high blood sugar, practically every family has a member who's affected by the disease, he says—but one of the things that's hardest for sufferers to handle is the stigma.