Deen diabetes revelation hard to swallow

2012-01-29T05:00:00Z Deen diabetes revelation hard to swallowSYLVIA RECTOR Detroit Free Press (MCT) Arizona Daily Sun
January 29, 2012 5:00 am  • 

Last week, Paula Deen the Butter Queen announced that she was diagnosed three years ago with Type 2 diabetes, and with her absurdly fatty recipes still airing on the Food Network, she is now the pitchwoman for a new diabetes drug from the company that makes her medication.

In how many ways does that feel wrong?

In an interview with NBC's Al Roker, Deen said that she waited to reveal her condition until she could "bring something to the table." But changing the kind of food she celebrates on the Food Network doesn't seem to be part of her plan.

Asked if she planned to change how she cooks and eats, she dodged the question, saying, "Here's the thing. I've always encouraged moderation."

But not nearly as much as she has encouraged the use of butter and a deep fryer.

Three weeks before her revelation, Deen's son Bobby launched a new Cooking Channel show called "Not My Momma's Meals," featuring lighter versions of his mother's dishes.

To me, it appears the Deen family is trying to have it both ways: If viewers decide Paula Deen's approach to food is simply too unhealthy to support, they can switch to the Food Network's Cooking Channel and watch another Deen doing a more sensible version of her fried apple pies. So far I haven't seen Bobby's interpretation of her infamous The Lady's Brunch Burger -- stacking a hamburger patty, bacon and fried egg between two Krispy Kreme doughnuts -- but it's early in the season and he may still show us how to improve it.

Actually, anyone could.

More details about Deen's deal with the pharmaceutical company came out Wednesday when she appeared on "The Chew" and said that not only she but her sons are being compensated by the drugmaker, "because we, like everybody else, have to work." (Published reports put her net worth, incidentally, at $14 million to $20 million.)

But, she added, they're donating "a certain percentage" of their profits from the deal to the American Diabetes Association.

(Cue studio audience to applaud -- which they did.)

Exactly what percentage the Deens are donating, she didn't say. Nor has she said how much the deal is worth. But she always makes sure to name the company -- whose name I don't want to plug -- in every interview I've heard.

In her conversation with Roker, she repeated the line she used once on an "Oprah" show: "Honey, I'm your cook, not your doctor," and added, "you have to be responsible for yourself."

Yes, we do.

But to me, that caveat sounded hollow in light of what unfolded last week.

If there's a silver lining to all of this, it's that millions of Americans have been reminded of the risk factors for Type 2 diabetes. Those factors, according to the American Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.org), include obesity, lack of regular exercise, family history of the disease, low LDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, being over 45 years of age, being a member of certain ethnic and racial groups and having had gestational diabetes or a child weighing 9 pounds or more at birth.

If you're at risk, get tested. If we've learned anything from Paula Deen, it's that we need to look out for ourselves.

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