Paula Deen's diabetes: Blaming the victim?
Reactions to Paula Deen's diabetes announcement have ranged from hostile to supportive. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images for Extra / June 21, 2013)
Known for high fat recipes that raise the risk for obesity, heart disease and diabetes, Deen’s revelation that she has Type 2 diabetes herself -- and that she has partnered with Novo Nordisk in a campaign to promote their drug Victoza -- has branded her as a hypocrite and made her the butt of many jokes.
But over at the Website Diabetes Mine, Amy Tenderich points out that people who live with diabetes every day were quicker to show Dean some support.
With Type 2 diabetes -- formerly known as “adult-onset diabetes” -- people have trouble putting insulin to use in the body to metabolize dietary sugars. Obesity is a major risk factor, and diet, exercise and medication can help prevent the condition in people at risk or treat the disease once it develops.
But it also has a strong genetic component, which explains why although more than 30 percent of Americans are obese, but only 10 percent have Type 2 diabetes, Tenderich said. And Deen has said there are others in her family who eat like she does, but they haven't been diagnosed.
“There's a lock and a key,” said obesity specialist David Edelson, an assistant clinical professor of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York in my recent story, “Diabetes’ Civil War.”“The key is a bad lifestyle that leads to weight gain around the gut.”
Will drugs help?
Still, Tenderich said we should probably be paying more attention to the medication Deen is promoting. Last summer, the FDA warned about animal studies showing the possible risks of thyroid cancer and pancreatitis from using Victoza. Meanwhile, on The Jury's Still Out over at Diabetes Mine, more than 1,025 readers have commented about the severe gastrointestinal side effects from the drug, including nausea, gas pains and constipation.
Tenderich, diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as an adult – which means her pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin and eating a healthy diet won’t change her diagnosis -- isn’t interested in calling Deen a hypocrite.
While she thinks Deen “missed an opportunity to become a poster child for reinventing your diet,” she’d rather focus on the good that can be done by moving forward. That might include taking a closer look at the drug.“I wonder how long Ms. Deen has been on Victoza or whether she’s tried it,” mused Tenderich. “Somehow I’m sure it won’t mix well with her Buttermilk Fried Chicken.