Paula Deen announced on the Today Show Tuesday morning that she has Type 2 Diabetes (also known as adult-onset diabetes), a diagnosis the Southern chef says she’s known about for three years.
So why is the Food Network star, best known for dishes such as Bacon-Fried Mac n’ Cheese and a Bacon/Donut Burger, just disclosing this news now?
Amidst growing speculation and rumors that she had diabetes (The National Enquirer first reported it in 2010), Paula Deen said she wanted to wait to announce she had diabetes until she could give something in return.
“My knowledge about the disease was very limited. But now I’m coming with good information, something that can help and bring hope to other people. It may sound cliché, but it’s the God-honest truth.”
The “good information” appears to be Paula Deen’s new partnership with the drug company Novo Nordisk, who is paying her to be a spokeswoman. Paula Deen is currently taking their drug Victoza, a once-daily, non-insulin injection. Paula Deen announced her new initiative with the drug company and their new website, Diabetes In A New Light, on the popular morning talk show.
Type 2 diabetes, a chronic disease in which there are high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood, has been on the rise in the United States, and has increased in proportion to higher rates of obesity. As of 2010 there were approximately 285 million people with the disease compared to 30 million in 1985. Type 2 diabetes, which is the most common form of diabetes, is linked to a variety of causes, most notably genetics, weight, diet, and lifestyle. Excess body fat is seen in 64% of cases of diabetes in men and 77% of cases in women.
Health care providers are finding more and more children with type 2 diabetes, a disease usually diagnosed in adults aged 40 years or older.
When Al Roker asked Paula Deen if she thinks her recipes contributed to her diagnosis, a noticeably uncomfortable Deen said: ““That is part of the puzzle.”
Paula Deen added: “People see me cooking all these wonderful, Southern, fattening recipes ... it’s for entertainment. People have to be responsible,” said Paula Deen. “Like I told Oprah, ‘Honey, I’m your cook, not your doctor.’”
Paula Deen, who has built an empire around her heavy-handed recipes, says that she doesn’t eat the type of recipes she makes on her show every day of the year. “You don’t want to make a steady diet of just lettuce…You don’t want to make a steady diet of fried chicken,” Paula Deen has said. “In moderation, you can always have that piece of pie.”
Anthony Bourdain, a chef not afraid to mince words, recently called Paula Deen “the worst, most dangerous person to America,” in response to the butter-drenched, fried food she constantly makes.
“I would think twice before telling an already obese nation that it is OK to eat food that is killing us,” Bourdain has said of Deen and the bad food she seems to endorse. In response to her diagnosis, Anthony Bourdain said he obviously “takes no pleasure” in the news, but that’s it’s not unexpected. “When your signature dish is hamburger in between a doughnut, and you’ve been cheerfully selling this stuff knowing all along that you’ve got type 2 diabetes…It’s bad taste if nothing else,” he said.
So in light of her diagnosis, will Paula Deen start advocating healthier recipes for America’s families? Apparently not.
“I suspect I’ll stick to my roots but will say a little louder, ‘Eat this in moderation,’” Paula Deen has said.