Rumors of Paula Deen’s Type 2 Diabetes status have circulated for years; the reports made sense because of the Food Network chef’s signature Southern cooking style that focuses on comfort laden with sugar, cream, cheese, and butter. Deen, 65, has finally admitted in a press release that she does in fact have the disease but will continue her lifestyle and way of cooking. In concert with that, Deen has partnered with the drug company Novo Nordisk to create a website that focuses on managing diabetes and highlights the insulin injection Victoza, which Deen takes every day.
So the order of events here is: eat crazy food, get diabetes, become dependent on drugs, get endorsement deal for diabetes drug, continue to eat crazy food? Only in America.
People have been critical of Deen’s less-than-healthy approach to cuisine, but perhaps most damaging is the speculation that she has known about her diagnosis for years yet has continued to push the kind of food that has led to the obesity and diabetes epidemics in America today. Fellow chef Anthony Bourdain has spoken out against Paula Deen in the past, calling her “the most dangerous person in America.” Of the news that she is diabetic, he told People magazine:
“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 in bad taste if nothing else,” he said. “How long has she known? I suspect a very long time.”
Is it unconscionable for Paula Deen to sling such cartoonishly fattening food and play games with “lightened up” versions of dishes knowing that eating the stuff contributed to her health problems? There is empowerment behind her message that diabetes is not a death sentence, but isn’t there something to be said for caution? Is it even creepier that she’s now positioned herself as someone who has always eaten whatever she likes and can continue to do so thanks to the pharmaceuticals on which she is now dependent?
What do you think?