Away From the Bench

The world outside of the lab

Through the Magic of Television

I’m guessing no one could have read the news a few weeks ago without glancing upon Paula Deen’s announcement that she now has Type 2 diabetes.  I’m not sure why this was such big news, other than she was making it that way for personal profit.

I understand that celebrities have avenues such as advertising to use their fame for a paycheck and professional gain.  I have a problem with her shilling for a drug company, for a treatment of a disease that she has, yet she contributes to that disease with her work.  I recognize branding and her desire to not hurt her career, but she got herself into this conundrum.  She could have kept her health issues out of the public eye (as she has for the past three years since her diagnosis) and kept her brand alive, or even *gasp* slowly change her brand to a healthier one?!?  However, her choice to get paid by a drug company AND tell the world:

You know, people see me on TV two or three times a day and they see me cooking all these wonderfully Southern, fattening dishes. That’s only 30 days out of 365.  And it’s for entertainment. And people have to be responsible. Like I told Oprah a few years ago, honey, I’m your cook, not your doctor. You are going to have to be responsible for yourself.

Her saying, “I have always encouraged moderation” of unhealthy foods hurts many more people than her recipes ever did.  A healthy diet and exercise can alleviate the symptoms of many cases of Type 2 diabetes, and there is currently no drug on the market that cures this disease.  Of course moderation is key to a healthy lifestyle, but moderation is not the technique people use to top 300 pounds.  People need tools other than pure self-control when they are making lifestyle changes.  If you are going to publicly promote diabetes awareness and treatment, you cannot tell them you’re not their doctor, so don’t listen to what you have to say and watch what you do on your cooking show every week.

I’ve seen The Next Food Network Star and I know you are never supposed to say, “Through the magic of television I have this baked Alaska right here.”  However, I feel as though that’s exactly what Paula Deen has done.  She is basically saying, “Through the magic of this one drug for diabetes, you can eat whatever you want and there will be no dire consequences.”  Did Tracy Morgan send out a press release when he was diagnosed with diabetes?  He lost a kidney because of this disease, even after he lost weight and tried to control his blood sugar better.  Perhaps stories like his should be front-page news as a warning to those who do not manage their diabetes properly and eat all the gooey butter cake that Paula Deen teaches them how to make.


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