In Defense Of Paula Deen: She Didn’t Give Herself (Or Anyone Else) Diabetes

By now, the world has heard that Paula Deen, the queen of southern comfort food, has Type 2 Diabetes. The media has been swirling with suggestions that she brought this on herself with all of her high-fat, high-caloric cooking, not to mention assertions that she’s responsible for bringing diabetes to others with her unhealthy cookbooks and recipes. In defense of Paula Deen: I think that’s all a bunch of rubbish. She didn’t give herself (or anyone else) diabetes.

Firstly, there’s no hard proof that her diet directly caused her Diabetes. As she stated on the Today show this morning, there are many factors that go into this disease including genetics (a major factor according to some experts), lifestyle, stress and age.

Linda Siminerio, director of the Diabetes Institute at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center says food isn’t the real culprit in Diabetes. She told MSNBC:

To my knowledge no particular food has been linked to an increase in the risk of diabetes. It’s being overweight and inactive.

And Today show contributor, Dr. Roshini Raj stated that being overweight is probably the “most defined risk factor” for Diabetes, although she does believe that diet and a lack of exercise can also increase those risks.

What’s more, it’s unfair to lay blame by saying “you are what you eat” when, outside of her shows, we don’t know enough about her lifestyle and nutrition to criticize her for it.

So, could Paula’s high-fat, high-cholesterol diet have contributed? We just don’t know, to be honest.

If you ask her, she doesn’t eat like this every day:

I’ve always eaten in moderation. You know, people see me TV two and 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 entertaining she is. I’ve watched Paula Deen for years simply because I like her. I find her personality–and her syrupy accent–fun and entertaining. But I’ve never made any of her recipes, because I don’t eat like that.

Which brings me to the point of personal responsibility. Yes, Deen is in the public eye and has the capacity to influence what Americans cook and eat, but at the end of the day, it’s not her who’s serving dinner; it’s you. Pointing fingers at Deen–or any other celebrity cook–and blaming them for our nation’s obesity and diabetic epidemic is not only unfair; it’s not going to solve the problem, ultimately. We all choose what we cook and what we put in our mouths. And even if Paula does tempt you with her mouth-watering fried chicken and grits, it doesn’t have to be your everyday food.

Paula said it best on the Today Show this morning:

I have always encouraged moderation. On my show, I share with you all these yummy, fattening recipes, but I tell people, in moderation, in moderation you can have that little piece of pie.

People have to be responsible. Like I told Oprah, ‘Honey, I’m your cook, not your doctor.’ You have to be responsible for yourself.

Agreed. Personally, I wish Paula the best in her battle with diabetes.


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    • Jim

      Not to blame? Are you kidding me? She’s overweight. That tells you she doesn’t work out and more than likely eating poorly. I was diagnosed 3 years ago and I busted my butt working out, started eating sensibly, lost the weight and have been off the medication for over 2 years. No one can tell me she has no one to blame but herself.

      • Deborah Dunham

        Thanks for your thoughts, Jim. I know many people who are overweight and work out regularly, so we can’t assume that she doesn’t exercise. Yes, she is overweight, which means her diet is probably not great, but we also can’t assume that she eats the buttery, southern cooking 24/7. Genetics and age (she’s 64) are also related to diabetes, so no one can be sure what caused her condition. I don’t want to judge someone without knowing all the facts–that’s too harsh and mean-spirited. No one should be told that they deserve a disease.

    • Buzz

      This article is little more than linkbait.

      Deen is a drug dealer peddling sweet concoctions that feel good and kill. While nobody forces an addict to stick a needle in their arm, the fact that the product is so readily available has to shoulder the responsibility.

      Deen is a drug kingpin, her drug is fat.

    • erin

      Who cares what she says; the doctor sitting next to her said the two main causes are WEIGHT and diet. Paula is an epic fail in both.

      Now she is a spokesperson for Novartis (who tests their drug on poor animals!) and will make millions. Not to mention she pushes Smithfield (hams) who were publicly found to abuse their smart pigs back in Dec. 2010. I agree with Barbara Walters who said Paula Deen is making our children fat. She’s the devil in disguise and still won’t change which is sad.

      • Niki

        Paula Deen is cooking for every child in America now? I must have missed that memo.

        And here I was thinking that feeding a child was the responsibility of their parents/caretakers. Silly me.

        Newsflash: if your children are eating a bad diet, you have yourself to blame. YOU buy the food, you cook it, you make it available to them. Until 6 year olds are out earning money and doing the grocery shopping and cooking on their own, what kids eat is in the parent’s hands – not the hands of a cook on food network (ps, if you dont want the kids watching her show? change the channel.)

      • Nancy

        Fat? Where in the world did you get that she’s fat? I know her personally and see her in person several times a year and if she weighs 120lbs. I’ll be shocked…before I blog something, I’m smart enough to get my facts right! You need to learn how to seperate TV from reality. Many celebrities are portrayed much differently than real life…She’s a very nice, smart, small-framed woman that is very giving and kind.

    • Anna

      HER BIGGER SIN IS SIGNING A DEAL TO PUSH DANGEROUS DIABETES DRUGS. no one needs drugs for type 2 diabetes

      The Anti Obesity drug makers and diabetes drug makers take in 10 billion$$$$ every year with no cure!!

      Food Chemicals are the cause of the diabetes and obesity crisis

      The FDA and Drug makers know this and are laughing to the Billionaire$$$ bank

      The food chemicals break the gut(insulin) and this is the cause of the diabetes and obesity crisis

      A filmmaker has been reversing diabetes and Obesity WITHOUT MEDICATIONS in now 10 countries and the drug makers do not promote the story

      just google SPIRIT HAPPY DIET

    • Scott killmer MD

      Paula Dean and all other type 2 diabetics absolutely “made ” themselves diabetic. So many people want to believe that if they cant eat 500 – 1000 gms of carbohydrates everyday and not be diabetic that they must be ‘plagued’ with the same aberrant gene that the other 150,000,000 Americans have for diabetes. “Wake Up Homosapiens” – You weren’t made to eat so much carbs . So don’t!
      Furthermore if all diabetics would just ‘stop’ continuing to eat carbs most would not need their meds. Paleo diet is the ‘CURE’

    • Stephanie

      I’m sad for Paula, but not all that surprised. Maybe she should look into a healthier diet to treat her diabetes instead of drugs? There’s lots of interesting information available at this noncommercial, science based site: To quote the good doctor: “It is too bad Paula Deen missed this opportunity” to tell her fans “that type 2 diabetes can be prevented, managed, treated, and even cured”. Read more at

    • Laura

      I beg to differ – type 2 diabetes is ALWAYS related to diet. Type 1 is genetic and runs in families. Type 1 is when you fail to produce insulin, Type 2 is when your cells are so bombarded they don’t respond to insulin. The writer should have done some research on the pathology of the two.

      Paula Deen chose poorly and ended up with a disease that was completely preventable. However, she’s only responsible for her illness not anybody elses.