When I first moved to Washington, D.C., I started reading a fashion and beauty blog called Capitol Hill Barbie. I was obsessed. Then, Barbie got married, had a baby and moved to the Big Apple. Now, Barbie brings style and wit to motherhood at her new blog, Baby Steps in Heels. So when she asked me on Twitter, if she could write today’s Discuss column, I immediately agreed. Please enjoy this guest post, and as always, leave your thoughts in the comments. xoxo Belle
Before I go on my rant, I’d like to thank Belle for allowing me this space to vent. I always read her “Discuss” columns with great interest and I appreciate that she uses her blog to foster discussion on issues beyond Ugg boots and Vera Bradley (because really? what is there to discuss? ICK.) So, here it goes.
Earlier this week, amid much speculation in the food-blogosphere, Food Network’s Paula Deen announced that she has Type II diabetes and is currently endorsing Victoza, a newish drug from the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk. In fact, she was actually diagnosed with diabetes three years ago, but is only coming forward now with this spokesmanship. As I sat on the floor watching my child play and listened to her talk on The Today Show about how she was helping people understand that diabetes is not a death sentence, I just got angrier and angrier.
Actually, at one point I swore so loudly that the baby took a break from her Mozart Music Cube to look at me with surprise.
I have worked in both health and food policy, so I am familiar with both diabetes and drug companies. Type II diabetes is an incredibly insidious disease. It has effects on multiple organ systems and makes treating even the simplest medical problem more difficult. There are many contributing factors to someone developing the disease, as Deen indicates, such as family history, age and lifestyle. But a HUGE factor in developing and managing diabetes is diet and exercise.
Paula Deen spoke on the Today Show about how she has “always” encouraged moderation when it comes to her food. This is a woman who gleefully peddles deep fried butter and a hamburger sandwiched in between two doughnuts on her shows. That, to me, leaves no room for moderation. It’s edged out by the number of points your blood sugar went up just looking at that
My main problem with Paula Deen is that she is making money at both ends simultaneously.She exalts fat and sugar laden foods on her shows and through her endorsement deals, but then also shills for a drug that treats the problem the fatty and sugary foods cause and/or exacerbate. Then she goes on TV and tells people that diabetes is not a punishment and that she (and her drug that costs $500 a month) will be there for them.
She shows no sign of changing her cooking shows to reflect the lighter recipes or acknowledge that her endocrinologist would pass out if she ate the foods she cooked. But! Eat them! Then take this drug I endorse that may improve blood glucose levels with diet and exercise (even though diet and exercise are often credited with that on their own). Oh, BTW, it’s also linked to a pretty severe form of thyroid cancer and pancreatitis. Don’t worry, I’m profiting from everything.
I’m not faulting Deen for not releasing her medical information three years ago, I believe very strongly in privacy of health information. I’m not even really faulting her for endorsing a diabetes drug. I’m faulting her for being totally unrepentant about putting her own financial gain above anything else.