You seem like a nice, sweet lady. Although I've never bought any of your cookbooks or fixed any of your meals or desserts in my home, I'm sure I may have enjoyed a taste or two of your culinary creations while celebrating a holiday with my family- several of whom are huge fans of yours. I'm sorry to hear of your diabetes diagnosis- I truly am. As you're probably now well aware after taking three years to educate yourself on this disease, it is no laughing matter. Some of the more sobering facts about diabetes:
- Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, nontraumatic lower-limb amputations, and new cases of blindness among adults in the United States.
- Diabetes is a major cause of heart disease and stroke.
- Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
In your three year quest to educate yourself, I'm sure you also learned that diabetes can be entirely preventable with certain lifestyle changes. You probably even learned that studies have shown that people with pre-diabetes who lose weight and increase their physical activity can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes and in some cases return their blood glucose levels to normal.
When asked about the length of time it took you to go public with your diagnosis on the Today Show, you explained that "I wanted to bring something to the table when I came forward." What you brought to the table - the Novo Nordisk "Diabetes in a New Light" campaign- saddens me more than your diagnosis. You are now the new face of Victoza- a drug that may improve blood sugar when used in conjunction with diet and exercise. A drug that has caused thyroid tumors in animal studies. A drug that costs $499.98 for a 3 pen supply that should last its users approximately 3 months. And you do so all the while taking pains to note that despite your diagnosis, you're going to keep on cooking the same way you always have...you're just going to cut back on the sweet tea and continue preaching "all in moderation."
Oh, Paula. When I think about all the fans out there of yours, the ones who frequently fix your infamous donut burger, your fat-laden fried butter balls, the ones who will sit and watch you cooking all your signature fried dishes on Food Network and think of you as their own personal idol, I then can't help but wonder how many of them out there received a pre-diabetes diagnosis from their doctor as the past three years ticked away. I wonder how many could have possibly prevented a full-blown diabetes diagnosis if their beloved idol, you Ms. Paula Deen, had not only shared her diagnosis with them but also advised that if they made certain lifestyle changes (such as cutting out the afore-mentioned donut burgers and butter balls and beginning to incorporate physical exercise into their daily routine), they could avoid suffering the same fate...and having to shell out $175 a month for the diabetes medication you're now pimping out. I'm sure they could use the extra money in their budget. As you said to a reporter in the New York Post in response to an Anthony Bourdain criticism of your cooking, "[n]ot everybody can afford to pay $58 for prime rib or $650 for a bottle of wine. My friends and I cook for regular families who worry about feeding their kids and paying the bills."
I guess these regular folks shouldn't complain about having to drop a big wad of cash on their diabetes medications. After all, their food budget stretches far seeing how it's being spent on cheap butter, sugar, flour and the least expensive fattiest cuts of meat in line with the recipes in your cookbooks so they should have enough extra money to spend on pharmaceuticals. Who needs prime rib or fancy schmancy wine when you can treat yourself to a daily shot of Victoza?