You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Brooke Burke Talks Her Brother's Struggle with Obesity in First Interview Since His Death

People logo People 10/8/2021 Vanessa Etienne
Replay Video

Brooke Burke is getting candid about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle after the loss of her brother.

The former Dancing with the Stars host, 50, appeared virtually on Thursday's episode of the Tamron Hall Show for her first interview since her younger brother, Tommy, died in July — one day after his 44th birthday. Citing his death as morbid obesity, she detailed his ongoing struggle with health to host Tamron Hall.

Brooke Burke-Charvet et al. posing for a picture: The TV personality opened up about her brother Tommy, who died this summer at the age of 44 © Brooke Burke/Instagram The TV personality opened up about her brother Tommy, who died this summer at the age of 44

Burke said her brother was never overweight as a child and dealt with obesity only later in his life due to lifestyle and economic struggles, coping with their father's addiction, discipline, and other factors.

"These are the things that people and families don't always talk about because there's shame related to it," she said, noting that Tommy wanted to improve before he died. 

"This isn't about size. This isn't about being fit. This is about living and this is about lifestyle and discipline," she continued. "He shared with me that he was afraid that he was going to lose his life and he wanted to live. He wanted to be better and healthier."

Brooke Burke-Charvet posing for a picture: Brooke Burke/Instagram © Provided by People Brooke Burke/Instagram

RELATED: Brooke Burke Mourns the Death of Her Brother Tommy 1 Day After His Birthday: 'I Have No Words'

As a fitness guru, Burke described the "anger" she often feels as she and her family continue mourning.

"It's very difficult to be there for someone in the family that's struggling with addiction and battling with obesity because all you can do is love and support. But there is an element, in my opinion, that you have to get real with your family and you have to have these conversations," she explained. "And avoiding it because of shame, avoiding it because of denial, there's such an evil consequence of this type of a lifestyle that has to be addressed in a family."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Burke continued, "So now we're dealing with that, and now we're tiptoeing with the reality of what happened and hearing the word morbid obesity, I mean, that's a shocker. You know, dealing with the cause of death that could have been avoided that's painful."

Replay Video

RELATED: Brooke Burke Opens Up About Staying Fit in the Time of Coronavirus 'with No Equipment'

Burke told Hall that the "tricky" thing to do now is work on changing the narrative and helping others have the difficult conversations that surround obesity and living healthier. 

"I mean, that's the painful part of it. When you, you know, look at the choice to live a healthy life, it's loaded with different challenges," Burke said.

Want to get the biggest stories from PEOPLE every weekday? Subscribe to our new podcast, PEOPLE Every Day, to get the essential celebrity, entertainment and human interest news stories Monday through Friday.

She ended, "And then I have that loud siren song of reality of what I do in guiding and inspiring and teaching people how to make mindful choices and how to live a healthy life and the reasons why that go so far beyond the body and the vanity. It's just about living, like haven't we learned this year that just living is hard? Right?"

A GoFundMe page created for Tommy's family states that the beloved family man, fondly known as "Fatcat," died unexpectedly on July 20 while sleeping at his home. He leaves behind a wife and ten children.

The fundraiser, which has already collected over $37,000, aims to support Tommy's family both "during and after this difficult time" in their lives.


More from People

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon