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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Is Paula Deen a Diabetic?

The Internet is buzzing with rumors that TV chef Paula Deen, queen of the deep fryer, could soon reveal to the world that she has Type 2 diabetes.

The Daily reports that Deen, known for fat-laden dishes such as deep-fried, bacon-wrapped macaroni and cheese, is on the cusp of spilling the refried beans about her condition. Last year, the National Enquirer wrote that Deen had the condition, and the Daily is also reporting that the TV star has inked a deal with a pharmaceutical company to endorse a diabetes drug.

Deen is both revered and reviled for her Southern style of cooking, which uses copious amounts of butter, cream and everything else that can clog an artery. One of her biggest detractors has been "No Reservations" and "The Layover" host Anthony Bourdain, who has chided her for her less-than-healthful recipes in what has become something of a running feud.

If the news about Deen is true, it's hardly shocking that she's developed the disease, considering that it's linked with being overweight and obese and having a diet high in rich, fatty foods and simple carbohydrates. Diabetes affects 25.8 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Countless studies have shown that with obesity rates showing no signs of abating, Type 2 diabetes may threaten the lives of more people worldwide and escalate healthcare costs.

Last year, the International Diabetes Federation released a study that found about 366 million people around the globe have the disease, and healthcare spending is at $465 billion. Type 2 diabetes (the most common form of diabetes) causes the body to be insulin-resistant, or to not produce enough insulin to sustain normal glucose levels.

Deen may want to take a cue from chefs such as Art Smith, whose diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes compelled him to drop a whopping 85 pounds. If it's not easy for most people to lose weight, it's extra hard for chefs, who are around food all the time and have to constantly taste it. A couple of Los Angeles chefs talked about their own battles with weight as part of an experiment to see if they could drop the fat and calories in some of their dishes without customers noticing.

If Deen does make the announcement, it will be interesting to see the fallout -- will she revamp her recipes to make them less caloric? If so, will her leagues of loyal fans follow her lead, or bolt to find another food guru more in line with the old-school approach? We'll stay tuned

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