Paula Deen and the Diabetes Epidemic
27 Jan, 2012
In a spate of recent media appearances, Paula Deen, the unapologetic queen of culinary excess and indulgence would have us believe that she didn’t eat herself into type 2 diabetes — that it was just Russian Roulette. Genes do matter, but just a little. Sorry Paula, but type 2 diabetes, and in fact over 90 percent of chronic disease, happens because of bad choices, not bad genes. New research proves that type 2 diabetes is nearly 100 percent reversible without medication or gastric bypass.
Deen would also have us believe that she really didn’t expect us to eat her signature hamburger sandwiched in the middle of a donut. But whether unwittingly or not, Deen and her brand of junk food have been preying on a very human vulnerability: our innate tendency to become profoundly addicted to sugar, fat and salt.
Bolstered by “experts” such as Dr. Linda Siminerio, director of the diabetes institute at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who said, “To my knowledge no particular food has been linked to an increase in the risk of diabetes,” Deen refuses to acknowledge that her sugary, fatty foods led to her diabetes. No food has been linked to diabetes? Dr. Siminerio stands alone with Paula Deen in that belief.
Deen said she would not change her own lifestyle or cooking style drastically, other than to reduce portion sizes of unhealthful foods. “I’ve always preached moderation,” she said. So just have half the hamburger on an open-faced donut sandwich? If all calories were created equal, that might fly.
But nutrition research over the last 30 years has overwhelmingly demonstrated that all calories are not created equal.
Food is information. Any sixth grader will tell you that 1,000 calories of broccoli is different from 1,000 calories of soda. Even the American Diabetes Association and Weight Watchers have changed how they categorize foods based on the fact that while chocolate chip cookies and spinach are both carbohydrates, they do not have the same effect on your hormones, appetite, metabolism or weight. Sorry Paula, you can’t just eat less of the same junk foods and reverse or even stabilize your diabetes.
Paula Deen’s celebration of excess and indulgence is irresponsible if not outright dangerous in the face of our obesity epidemic. Nearly three out of four Americans are overweight or obese, one in two Americans has pre-diabetes or diabetes (or what I call “diabesity”) and, shockingly, 25 percent of diabetics and 90 percent of pre-diabetics are not even diagnosed.
Caring for these people will cost $3.4 trillion over the next 10 years. Today, one in three Medicare dollars is spent on diabetes. Our country is becoming the United States of Diabetes. And globally we are becoming the United Nations of Diabetes. Since 1983, there has been over a 1,000 percent increase in diabetes worldwide.
Deen’s endorsement of Victoza, a diabetes drug, lulls us into the belief that the false god of medication will save us from our excess. Don’t worry. Just keep eating 55 pounds of flour and 150 pounds of sugar a year, the American average. If you have bad genes, Big Pharma will be there to save you. But remember, the last blockbuster diabetes drug, Avandia, has led to 47,000 heart attack deaths since it was introduced on the market in 1999. Sorry to break the news, but if you are standing on a tack, it takes a lot of aspirin to make your foot feel better.
While some may have a genetic predisposition, those genes only get turned on when doused in mountains of white flour, white sugar and fat. Type 2 diabetes is almost 100 percent preventable and curable with dietary intervention. When Deen says she doesn’t blame herself, then whom does she blame?