2006 image of Paula Deen taken as part of a public relations campaign for the nonprofit group Civitan.
Paula Deen (left) never met a stick of butter she didn't like. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/WorkerBee/Wikipedia)

Millions of Americans suffer from type 2 diabetes, and Paula Deen, the Food Network TV chef, was recently added to the list. As celebrity chefs like Anthony Bourdain have argued, Deen’s continued endorsement of heavy foods – as evidenced by a recent contribution she made to Opraph Winfrey’s O: The Oprah Magazine – is irresponsible.

Understanding type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. Either the body fails to produce enough insulin or the cells of the body begin to ignore the insulin that is present. Insulin is necessary for the human body to properly utilize glucose for energy. It helps transport the sugar from the blood and into the cells. If blood sugar is not regulated by insulin in this way, a variety of complications can occur.

Paula Deen’s diabetes uproar

Tuesday, Paula Deen admitted publicly that she had been diagnosed in 2008 with type 2 diabetes. She has partnered with drugmaker Novo Nordisk in a diabetes awareness campaign. However, she continues to extol heavy foods on her Food Network program, adding only a small disclaimer that she supports moderation when it comes to the consumption of gut-busting delights.

Critics have accused Deen of a callous nonchalance when it comes to the consequences of such a diet. Her recent contribution to the February 2012 issue of O: The Oprah Magazine’s collections of celebrity mottoes isn’t troubling on its own, but her position as a public spokeswoman for food and her type 2 diabetes make the pronouncement “might as well eat a cookie” troubling to some.

‘Might as well eat a cookie’

Slinging butter and consuming doughnut bacon cheeseburgers with fried egg are tasty, but these behaviors don’t support Deen’s stated goal of proposing “simple ways” to manage diabetes, notes People.

“I was determined to share my positive approach and not let diabetes stand in the way of enjoying my life,” Deen said. “I’m excited to team up with Novo Nordisk on this initiative to show others that managing diabetes does not have to stop you from enjoying the things you love.”

Television chef, world traveler and raconteur Anthony Bourdain reportedly “takes no pleasure” in Paula Deen’s illness, but he isn’t backing down from his statement that she is “the worst, most dangerous person in America.”

“When 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.”

Deen fires back

In an interview for TV Guide, Paula Deen remarked that unlike Bourdain, she and her colleagues give “time and money to help the food-deprived, sick children and abandoned animals.” The implication is that Bourdain is an elitist who has lost touch with the average consumer.

“You know, not everybody can afford to pay $58 for prime rib or $650 for a bottle of wine,” she said.

However, as Christian Science Monitor notes, many “food elitists” simply want to make healthy choices.

“It’s better food,” said food journalist Joel Salatin. “It tastes better. It handles better. And it’s safer. Anyone buying chemicalized, drug-infused food is engaging in risky behavior.”

Paula Deen on diabetes, critics

Sources

America Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-2/

Christian Science Monitor

Huffington Post

Newser

O: The Oprah Magazine: http://bit.ly/wRDFPE

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