Here is an excerpt of what I wrote a year ago in my blog post:
This morning on the Today Show, Paula Deen announced that she has diabetes and is in partnership with a pharmaceutical company to spread the word about diabetes treatment. She also said some important things like "Diabetes isn't a death sentence." and "I want to help people...make sure they get tested".
The twitter and blog comments and traffic leading up to this have been amazing...much of it negative in the vein of ...'She got what she deserved' or that she has "sold out to big Pharma" or even more puzzling "Why did she keep this a secret for 3 years?" (Sadly, many of these comments came from my fellow dietitians.)
Here's how I feel about Paula Deen's announcement:
1. Who cares when she was diagnosed and why did she have to come out in public and announce that she was diabetic? There are plenty of celebrities who have become public figures associated with diseases and medication...Catherine Zeta-Jones for bipolar disorder; Greg Louganis-AIDS; Seal-lupus; Muhammad Ali & Michael J Fox - Parkinson's Disease. Source: http://celebritieswithyourdisease.com/
Many of these celebrities knew they had these diseases long before they chose to or were forced by tabloids to go public. People with diabetes don't usually go around announcing to the world "I HAVE DIABETES!" Would you walk around announcing if you had shingles or cancer?
2. How mean spirited to take the stance "She got what was coming to her based on her diet & cooking!" - really? You see her making and tasting food on TV...how do you know what she eats in her home? When is it ok to blame people for getting diseases? Yes, type 2 diabetes is strongly associated with lifestyle like obesity, diet and exercise but also stress and genetics play a part. I've met plenty of people with type 2 diabetes who WEREN'T overweight. Do we still get to point an accusing finger at them?
3. Who cares if she associates herself with a pharmaceutical company. If she's taking a medication to control her blood sugar and it works for her and she decides to be a spokesperson for them...why is that any worse or different than the athlete endorsing running shoes? The race car driver endorsing tires or insurance? The actor like Wilford Brimley who endorses a glucose monitoring kit?
What's the bottom line? Paula Deen is much loved and admired in the South. If her going public with this announcement about having diabetes helps even ONE person take the time to have their blood sugar checked or be more proactive about a treatment plan or talk to a dietitian...that's a good thing.
Now a year later.... As a dietitian I'm thrilled to learn of Paula's 40lb weight loss and from reading articles about her and Facebook posts on her page I know she made changes in her recipes, eating habits (and cut out drinking sweet tea) and increased exercise. This is what every dietitian wants when they see an adult with Type 2 diabetes. She didn't have rapid weight loss, 40lbs in a year is just over 3lbs per month - again, exactly what dietitians would recommend - slow, steady weight loss because it is safer and easier to maintain. Congratulations Paula Deen. I hope your success continues to serve as an example to not only Southerners but adults across America who struggle with diabetes and the challenge of weight loss.