The Dundee-born Shakespearean actor and star of the Bourne Supremacy told a conference on diabetes in Perth that he believed his diet during his upbringing in Dundee had caused his diabetes.
Cox said: “I’ve had to struggle with my weight for most of my adult life and I believe it is those eating habits which brought on my diabetes – Type 2 diabetes which is the kind brought on by an unfortunate lifestyle.”
The 67-year-old actor has been a prominent campaigner in seeking to promote a better understanding of diabetes and the lifestyle that can cause it.
Seven years ago he spearheaded the campaign to raise millions of pounds for the Sir James Black Centre at Dundee University, a state-of-the-art research facility which is home to 250 scientists and staff conducting research into diabetes, cancer and tropical diseases.
Dundee University is also home to the Dundee Diabetes Research Centre, a joint venture between the College of Life Sciences and the College of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing, and currently hosts over 20 research teams with a shared interest in diabetes, supporting research from the laboratory to the clinic.
Speaking earlier this year, Cox explained that, as a child growing up in a working-class neighbourhood in Dundee, he had consumed a lot of biscuits, chocolates and ice creams and now had to be “very careful” about his sugar intake.
He said: “Nowadays I live in Los Angeles and London but the habits I learned in Dundee have proved very hard to shake off.”
Cox continued: “They say that you can take the boy out of Dundee but never take Dundee out of the boy. Like most working class Scots, my diet was dreadful – fried food, potatoes, white bread. Fruit was stolen, not bought.
“I’ve had to struggle with my weight for most of my adult life and I believe it is those eating habits which brought on my diabetes.”
He explained: “The Type 2 diabetes I developed is caused by over-consumption of calories from fatty and sugary foods. I have to be very careful now not to eat too much sweet stuff as my body now finds it much harder to store or process sugar. Even if I eat a square of chocolate, it can make me feel ill. A whole bar might send me into a diabetic coma.”
Cox, who was re-elected as rector of Dundee University in January for a further period of three years, was one of the guest speakers at the Tayside Diabetes eighth Biennial Professional Conference at Perth Concert Hall.
The event brought together experts from across and outwith NHS Tayside to update local healthcare professionals about the latest developments in the care of people with diabetes.
The conference focused on the growing challenge of the diabetes epidemic and the more general challenge of coping with the consequences of an increasingly overweight population.
Delegates were told that, according to the latest figures, there are around 21,000 people with diabetes in Tayside and just over 80 per cent of those are overweight or obese.
Dr Alistair Emslie-Smith said: “This event allowed those who provide care to people with diabetes to meet with colleagues from across Tayside and hear from experts about new developments in this field. With the number of people with diabetes steadily increasing, it is important that we continue to support healthcare professionals to provide quality care.”
Jacqueline Walker, a Tayside nutrition manager, said it was important to focus on the issue of obesity community. She explained: “Almost a third of children and two-thirds of adults in Tayside are either overweight or obese, and this has overtaken smoking as the biggest public health problem in Scotland today.
“People who are overweight have an increased risk of a wide range of serious, life-threatening and chronic diseases, including diabetes.”