In Which I Defend Paula Deen

Why has she been portrayed as such a villain?

Kathryn Foss BioBy Kathryn Foss

Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!


February 2012 — So, it's been an interesting few weeks in the news in regards to Paula Deen, her "secret diabetes," and her endorsement deal with Novo Nordisk. Ms. Deen and I now have quite a bit in common. I've been reading news sites and status updates on Facebook with a mixture of curiosity and astonishment. She has been painted as a villain in this whole situation and I find people's outrage mystifying.

What do I find so fascinating about this? First, she has no obligation to lay out the details of her health to us, total strangers. People act as though her silence has caused untold millions great suffering. She has had type 2 diabetes for years now and she has been managing it with her doctor. It's not Paula's responsibility to tailor her shows and cookbooks around her disease, and it's certainly not her responsibility to tell us, her fans, that we shouldn't base our entire diets on meals from her books and shows. Our health and our eating habits are our own responsibility.

Secondly, I'm astonished at the ignorance that still exists in regards to type 2 diabetes. Some people say that Paula should be ashamed of herself for cooking the ways she does and then hiding the fact that she has diabetes. The fact that people still believe that FOOD causes diabetes is staggering. It proves that diabetes education is lacking, even as the massive number of diabetes cases diagnosed increases yearly. In case you were wondering, no food has the power to make you diabetic. Being overweight does not have the power to make you diabetic. Can weight and diet be contributors? Absolutely, and diabetes can oftentimes be averted by adjusting diet and exercise. However, science has yet to understand all of the contributing factors surrounding type 2 diabetes. It's just foolish to get mad at Paula Deen for cooking good Southern food and then assuming that it gave her diabetes. There are people who eat hamburgers sandwiched between two Krispy Kreme donuts and are grossly overweight who will NEVER develop diabetes. Period. And I am sure that what Paula is cooking on her TV show is not indicative of how the woman eats every day.

The next issue that people seem to be really fired up about is her deal with Novo Nordisk to endorse Victoza. I have heard a lot of criticism here, but the one that really upsets me is the accusation that she is endorsing a fancy, expensive drug that most people cannot afford. If you cannot afford this drug, do NOT blame Paule Deen or Novo Nordisk. Blame your insurance company that is more concerned with making money than with getting you the best drug for your diabetes (my own political special interest group rant and opinion!). I use Victoza and it is covered 100% by the Norwegian National Healthcare because in all of the testing over the years, Victoza has been proven to be an excellent drug for people with type 2 diabetes. Since I began using it, my A1C levels have dropped and my beta cell production has increased. Victoza is, in my opinion, one of the most significant diabetes drugs to be produced in the last five years. Yes, it is expensive, but it is no more expensive than Byetta. Expense is not the issue here, insurance coverage is. So instead of getting mad at Paula, maybe write your congressperson instead and express concern over the power of special interest groups in our society today.

While people have totally vilified Paula and are basically accusing her of using her diabetes as an opportunity to make money, I say GOOD FOR HER! Wouldn't you love it if a representative from a cutting edge diabetes drug offered you millions to publically that you were using their drug? Of course you would. At least I would. And then, once I had those millions, I would hire Paula Deen to come and cook an amazing meal filled with fat and Southern goodness for me every once in awhile, knowing that — incorporated into the context of an overall healthy lifestyle — that Krispy Kreme hamburger will be absolutely decadent and absolutely fine to eat!

Read more of Kathryn Foss' columns here.

dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.

Last Modified Date: June 03, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.
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