As most of you probably know, Food Network star Paula Deen, well known for her fat- and sugar-laden Southern recipes, confirmed Tuesday that she has Type 2 diabetes.
She made the announcement on the Today Show during an interview with Al Roker. The news has caused a storm of controversy, with many criticizing Deen for promoting the kind of eating that is associated with Type 2 diabetes. Others are ticked by the fact that she apparently waited three years to make the news public, that she told Roker she has always preached “moderation,” and that she has already formed a promotional partnership with the diabetes drugmaker Novo Nordisk.
The Today Show clip can be viewed for free on Hulu.com. Here’s the link. I have also transcribed Deen’s exact words on the show and will paste them below for anyone to read.
What is your reaction to this news? Should Deen be ashamed of herself or should her critics lay off?
From “The Today Show,” January 17, 2012
Note: Deen’s words are exact. Al Roker’s questions are paraphrased.
Deen: I was diagnosed three years ago… during a regular physical exam with my doctor that I had type 2 diabetes and I am here today to let the world know that it is not a death sentence. I am working along with a very reputable pharmaceutical company, I am working on a new progam called “Diabetes in a New Light.” You can go to our website. I am going to be there for you and help you manage every day of your life with this because it can be done.
Roker: We should mention that you are a paid spokesperson for this pharmaceutical company (Novo Nordisk).
Deen: Absolutely. I have been compensated just as you are for your work, yes.
Roker: Why did you wait so long to make this public?
Deen: I intentionally did it, Al. I came home, I told my children, I told my husband. I said, “I am going to keep this close to my chest for the time being” because I had to figure things out in my own head. I had to give time to think about it, talk with my doctor. Because, Al, at the time – you know I tell everything. I could have walked out and said, “Hey y’all, I have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes” and walked away. I had nothing to give to my fellow friends out there.
Roker: How would you respond to allegations that you delayed the announcement for fear that it would damage your reputation or the industry you’ve built?
Deen: No. People are not going to quit eating. We quit eating, we are all outta here. I wanted to bring something to the table when I came forward and I’ve always been one to think that I bring hope because I’ve had lots of obstacles in my life, y’all. (Roker here mentions her agorophobia, poverty)
Roker: Talk about how fattening Southern food can be and can it lead to Type 2 diabetes, blah blah blah.
Deen: Certainly, Al, that is part of the puzzle but there’s many other things that can lead to diabetes. Certainly genetics, certainly your lifestyle, certainly what you eat, certainly stress. And last but not least is age. There’s a lot of us baby boomers out there and there’s a good chance that that will be one of the issues you have to face. But “Diabetes in a New Light,” along with my sons Jamie and Bobby, we are going to help you to work on still having a full life without feeling like you are being punished or you are not being able to taste the wonderful flavors that you like.
Roker here calls on Dr. Roshini Raj, asking her to talk about what causes diabetes. She confirms the factors mentioned by Deen, adding that certain races are more prone to getting diabetes and saying “being overweight in particular is probably the most defined risk factor for diabetes.”
Roker (back to Paula): Are you going to change the way you cook and eat?
Deen: Here’s the thing – you know I’ve always encouraged moderation. On my show, you know, I share with you all these yummy fattening recipes but I tell people in moderation. In moderation. You can have that little piece of pie. Here’s what I want to get across to people: I want them to first start by going to their doctor and asking to be tested for diabetes, and then get on a program that works for you. I’m amazed at the people out there that are aware they are diabetic but they are not taking their medicine, they are not doing anything.
Roker: OK, besides medication. Have you changed the way you eat?
Deen: I’ve always eaten in moderation. You know, people see me on TV two or three times a day[I think she means "week"] and they see me cooking all these wonderfully Southern fattening dishes. That’s only… that’s only 30 days out of 365 and it’s for entertainment. And people have to be responsible.
Roker: So you’re saying you can’t eat like that every day.
Deen: No, I never have. I never have. It’s like I told Oprah a few years back, I said, “Honey, I’m your cook, not your doctor. You know, you are going to have to be responsible for yourself.”