paula deen and diabetes

Paula Deen, Diabetes and the Culture of Transparency

By Communications

Paula Deen, lover of butter and oil, matriarch of a Food Network empire and now, public Type 2 diabetes patient, has pissed off a lot of people. Deen revealed her years-old diagnosis of diabetes recently, conveniently coinciding with her new deal to endorse a pharmaceutical product. Representing Novo Nordisk, Deen has launched Diabetes in a New Light.  Criticism of her cooking techniques, recipes consistently loaded with fat and sugar, has been led by Anthony Bourdain who called her “the worst, most dangerous person to America.”

As Deen made her announcement about her endorsement, she declared that Type 2 diabetes isn’t changing her life. From Paula Deen Has Type 2 Diabetes:

“And even as she reveals that she is living with Type 2 Diabetes, she says it won’t stop her from eating the way she wants.

“I was determined to share my positive approach and not let diabetes stand in the way of enjoying my life,” Deen said Tuesday in a release announcing her launch ofDiabetes in a New Light™, geared toward finding “simple ways” to manage challenges of the disease.”

The lack of up-front transparency about her disease and the message that healthy living and eating isn’t a necessary component of living with Type 2 diabetes is what’s causing Deen to lose fans, fast. The health care community is beginning to demonstrate real concern over the message delivered as well and with good reason. Someone with as much of an influential footprint as Paula Deen espousing the “eat what you want” approach to diabetes management is very dangerous indeed.

It will be very interesting to see if her messaging changes as a result of the reaction to her announcement.

I come at this from a very personal point of view: many of my family members have lived with and died from complications of Type 2 diabetes. It’s pervasive and difficult, but not impossible to manage. If you or someone you know and care about has Type 2 diabetes, learn more about it from the American Diabetes Association and other resources that help in positive, healthy ways.