Paula Deen’s Diabetes Diagnosis: A Teachable Moment?

Paula Deen: I have diabetes, y'all!

When Paula Deen disclosed her diabetes diagnosis, the world didn’t seem too surprised. Deen is the queen of deep frying foods and famous for her decadent desserts and use of butter. In one popular YouTube video, Deen even deep fries a cheesecake. Indeed, Deen’s diet seems like a recipe for health issues and complications.

While Deen isn’t getting much sympathy from the blogosphere, it seems to me that we can use this diagnosis as a teachable moment – and dispel some of the common myths about type 2 diabetes.

For one, not all overweight or obese people develop type 2 diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), “Being overweight is a risk factor for developing this disease, but other risk factors such as family history, ethnicity and age also play a role.” Weight isn’t the only risk factor and most overweight people never develop type 2 diabetes. And, indeed, many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight.

Second, sugar isn’t necessarily to blame. While Deen’s cakes and dishes contain no shortage of confections, that notion that sugar causes diabetes is a common myth. The ADA states, “type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors. Being overweight does increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and a diet high in calories, whether from sugar or from fat, can contribute to weight gain.” Having said that, Deen’s unhealthy diet may have played a role – but other factors are almost certainly involved.

Third, people with diabetes can still eat sweets and desserts. Deen’s diagnosis doesn’t mean that she can no longer eat her own recipes. When consumed as part of a healthy meal plan and when combined with exercise, desserts and sweets aren’t entirely off limits. Moderation is key.

I’m not defending Deen and her diet of deep-fried lasagna, Krispy Kreme burgers and deep-fried stuffing on a stick; she’s responsible the unhealthy recipes that have become her hallmark. But I hope that the visibility surrounding Deen’s diagnosis can be used as teachable moment to learn more about a serious disease that affects 25.8 million Americans.

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  1. My problem with this is that her first step was to endorse a diabetes drug like it was a Nike Tennis Shoe. I mean – it was all in place for her press conference like being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes was good for business. I’ve long had an issue with the way she cooks and encourages people to just eat any way they want. I was once at a live show of hers (I do a cooking blog ( and used to love Food Network; but all their chefs that encourage healthy eating have been escorted over the new “Cooking Channel” which has far less availability on national cable systems; and Food Network has less and less about the food.

    • sorry for the wierd sentence about the live show – I lost my train of thought and didn’t proof read. (I’m a biscuit head!) I saw a live show of hers once and she was asked if she would ever put out a “lite” version of her recipes and she said “Honey I’m a Chef, not a personal trainer.” which got loud guffaws and laughter. I bet she’s not laughing now – and she’ll ride the “poor Paul has diabetes” train all the way the bank.

  2. Dennis Pelletier says:

    This should become an opportunity as well as a learing moment for Paula! This is something that affects millions of Americans. What a wonderful opportunity for Paula to make a differencevin their lives.

  3. What I don’t understand Is why people are being so rude about Paulas Cooking Yeah 90% Of it is probally Bad For you. But You don’t have to cook it so nobody can Blame Paula for there Unhealthy Cooking.
    And I Know You didn’t say anything about blaming Paula but A Lot of people have. Have A Great Day!! 🙂

  4. This expletive deleted was diagnosed 3 years ago but kept it to herself, while continuing to push her death lifestyle for her profit. Only when a drug endorsement opportunity came along did she come clean, again for profit.

    Among her risk factors, besides the laughable diet choices (fried cheesecake, indeed) is a lack of exercise, a point I am surprised you omitted. You come down on television or a glass of wine, but go easy on this drug pusher.

  5. As a blue-blooded southerner I have been a Paula Deen fan for as long as she has been on television. I have her kitchenware and her cookbooks and to this day i watch her shows with a salivating mouth. When I hear of people giving her a hard time for her style of cooking or for endorsing a certain product all I can think is you hypocrits. Given the oppurtunity I think we would all say that we like a certain product for some cold hard cash. As for her food, if your not from the south you wouldn’t understand. Granted it isn’t the healthiest cuisine in the world but some of my fondest memories are standing in my grandmother’s kitchen frying up a mess of chicken or fixin’ some biscuits. So in conclusion to all the Paula Deen nay-sayers out there all I gotta say is if you

  6. If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.

  7. Paula’s food in of it’s self is not healthy but it’s also not everyday fare for most people. Having a deep fried whatever is fine as long in moderation. As for most of the southern food she makes, if you only look at one item, it’s easy to judge incorrectly. Most dishes would have many vegetables on the side. If your eating greens with your fried chicken guess what they kind of cancel out the fat. It’s all about context.

    As for her motives…If your freshly diagnosed with diabetes it takes time to sort it out and learn what to do, how to eat, and what works for you. Even if she had spoke out upon her diagnosis would she have had anything to say beyond that? It’s better to speak with knowledge than to throw alarm out there.

    She is a businesswoman. So what if she endorses a drug that works for her or takes time to adjust her recipes and learn new ones. I’d rather hear with knowledge than not.


  8. In an ironic and unscrupulous exposure of criminal behavior that is licensed, endorsed and paid for by the victims of unhealthy food advertising, I saw an ad for ‘’ at the end of your story.

    The ad read “Stop dieting forever.” by Ads by Google. The truly insulting fact is that this company advertises a fake look that ignores the health issue of overeating and the complications that it may cause; heart disease, diabetes and strokes.

    This kind of company needs to be sued out of existence because it abuses the very people who are obviously swayed by food advertising.

    “Here, have a quick fix, because we know you really don’t want to exercise.” so someone can get rich. The thief is stealing twice, first, a person’s money, second, their dignity, because when the band comes off, so do the compliments. That’s just criminal.

  9. The worst part of all of this is that it is preventable. If we all just eat right and exerised most of the health problems would disapper, but so would medical jobs, ad jobs, food industry jobs and I think that is one the reasons we have these problems.

  10. christopher says:

    this should be a huge wake-up call to Paula.i was very borderline type-2.i did change my life around 180 degrees.i made drastic changes to diet exercise weight loss.that took some time.ive been free of this for over 1.5 yrs.i know nothing about her or her show-time to get help asap.

  11. Trans fats can cause the condition,
    but most people don’t realize that you can clean trans fats out of the body and restore it so your no longer diabetic !! People have done so.



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