Paula Deen says she has diabetes, will endorse pharmaceutical company

Here and Now

Paula Deen made waves this week when she announced that she’d be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Deen isn’t just any other American, though. She hosts a cooking show, renowned for its liberal use of fats, sugars and especially butter. And instead of announcing the diabetes to say she was going to change her ways, Deen went in a different direction.

She announced she was becoming a paid spokeswoman for pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk AS, which makes diabetes drugs such as Victoza. Deen said she was diagnosed three years ago but kept the matter private — seemingly until she could find a way to turn the diagnosis into a financial windfall.

Deen’s behavior has outraged some, particularly those who think lifestyle changes are important for dealing with, and potentially reversing, the effects of Type 2 diabetes.

Suzanne Vranica, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal who’s examined Deen’s announcement, said consumers think this Deen’s behavior is a complete sham.

“I think the real reason we’re seeing this problem is because she’s known for so long she’s had these problems and she’s done nothing in terms of her show and her books to promote a healthy lifestyle, which is needed when you’re combatting this sort of diabetes,” she sid.

Celebrity Chef Anthony Bourdain didn’t hold back in his criticisms either.

“Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later,” he tweeted.

Vranica described Deen’s problem as talking out of both sides of her mouth.

“The real crux of the problem is she’s basically tip-toed around this question about, “Well, on your show, will you now begin to promote healthier lifestyles.’ Although her spokespeople have said she’s in discussions to do that, it’s been slow going,” Vranica said.

They also point out that her son’s new show will feature healthier food.

But no matter how it turns out, Vranica said, there will be real ramifications for Deen and her brand because of this.

“Her brand was soaring up until now. What will happen to her book sales? Will people tune out,” Vranica said. “Given the reaction we’ve seen on social media sites, I anticipate there’s definitely going to be some financial fallout for her.”

Deen told the New York Post she felt criticisms of her cooking were elitists and that the food she prepares is the kind of food that can be afforded by regular families. Food blogger Marion Nestle countered that she has a hard time believing regular families can better afford to pay $500 a month to drug companies.

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