Social Question

jca's avatar

Do you think it was wrong of Paula Deen to wait three years to admit she had diabetes, meanwhile being a bad example, and then admit now when she's profiting from promoting diabetes meds?

Asked by jca (28404 points ) January 19th, 2012

Today on the Today Show, this was a discussion. Southern chef, cooking show host and cookbook author Paula Deen found out that she had diabetes three years ago. Of course, people are all entitled to their privacy, and discuss their health issues when they are ready to. However, in the three years since, she has not taken the opportunity to make her recipes healthier, instead cooking foods on her shows and in her cookbooks that are full of sugar and high in fat.

Now she comes out and admits she has diabetes, just in time to be a paid sponsor for a diabetes medication.

Did she do a wrong thing by continuing to cook unhealthy recipes after being diagnosed with diabetes (whether she admitted the diabetes in public or not)?

Did she do a wrong thing by having her diabetes discussion coincide with the pharmaceutical company deal, as a paid sponsor for the diabetes medication?

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46 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

I have a real hard time assigning ‘right and wrong’ to a personal thing like a chronic disease and how a person deals with it. It’s easy for us in the cheap seats to say things. But I hesitate to say that Deen is right or wrong or whatever. It’s personal.

And if the can make a few dollars and deal with her diabetes, who are any of us to criticize her?

BandanaMike's avatar

She never had to tell anyone about her diabetes. That is her own personal life. As for her cooking show. She has done nothing wrong by cooking the recipes she is cooking. The theme of the show is southern style cooking.

bea2345's avatar

Given the importance of television as an information source, her failure to inform viewers of her health status was dishonest. I think that people who appear on television have an obligation to be candid about some things. The fact remains that a high fat, high carbohydrate diet has its dangers, about which she must have known. Once the diagnosis was confirmed, should she have continued to promote such unhealthy eating? I think not.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Personal Diagnosis is just that, personal.

I don’t think that by cookin’ Southern she in any way “promotes” an unhealthy lifestyle. I highly doubt she eats the way she cooks for every meal. Here in the north we’d call her style “family cooking”....no different. We cook/bake that way for special occassions or for large family/friend gatherings. It doesn’t mean we have more than a sampling of the food dishes.

As for the Pharm deal, that too is a personal choice. It’s not one I would make. The deals she’ll make in regards to her TV shows and her cookbooks will most likely be much more lucrative than her spokesperson role.

She “bought time” most likely to get recipes ready to be converted in diabetic friendly ways.

One other thing, she actually admitted this a few months ago on Dr. Oz. I’m not certain why it’s taken this long for the press to run with it.

BandanaMike's avatar

@bea2345 Her show was only meant to show how to cook southern style foods. She was not hypnotizing the masses into eating that food. That show is for the audience who likes that type of food. You don’t like that type of food? Change the channel.

Blackberry's avatar

“Man…sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” – Dalai Lama

I think it’s kind of obstructive to advertise such a diet, anyway. Of course people can eat that stuff if they want, but it’s hard to feel sorry for them once they realize they maybe shouldn’t have done that to them or their kids.

Everyone knows the stats on obesity for children and adults and the consequences of not caring about it.

She’s making money, and I’m sure that’s all that matters, anyway.

marinelife's avatar

It could be said that her health was her own business, and just because she is a chef does not mean that she had to tell.

She certainly was a poster child for the anti-diabetic diet.

I guess that I just think it is not surprising that she does what was god for Paula Deen when it suits her.

bea2345's avatar

@BandanaMike – you are saying that the media have no obligation to disclose all, which can sometimes be the same as lying. Furthermore, yours is a society where obesity is an epidemic – and supposing you check the figures for diabetes sufferers? At the very least, her behaviour was not responsible.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@bea2345 When you look at Paula, you can see her weight is all around her mid-section. That alone creates a high risk factor for diabetes. Then, you add in diet and lifestyle….I really can’t see how this is surprising to anyone.

The fact that she sells her food in her famous restaurant, sells cookbooks, sells specials and TV shows adds in another foctor: She’s willing to sell herself and her ideas for money. She has no obligation to tell anyone anything beyond what she’s sold to them.

BandanaMike's avatar

@bea2345 The media has no obligation to disclose all. Paula Deen is entitled to a private life. just as much as you are. Her diabetes is her business.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I agree with @SpatzieLover ‘s posts. It’s up to me to be responsible for my own health. I have never seen Paula Deen make any false nutrition claims about her style of cooking. Because she has a cooking show and not a health show or a news show, I don’t believe she was in any way being irresponsible or deceitful. Sorry, @bea2345 , I don’t think your outrage is appropriate here.

Seaofclouds's avatar

Personally, I think being diabetic is her personal business and I don’t think it matters in regards to her cooking show because she is showing one type of cooking.

Also, as a side note, her son Bobby has a show where he takes his mother’s recipes and makes them healthy. So, since he is already making her recipes healthy, it doesn’t make much sense for her to be doing the same thing (television wise). Here’s a story on her son’s show.

@bea2345 Her health status is her business. She performs on a cooking show, showing people how to cook certain recipes. She is not giving lessons on how to cook for people that are Diabetic or saying anything at all about health in her show. If her show was about cooking for health, that would be different, but that is not what her show is about. Keeping her diabetes to herself has no impact at all on the people watching her cooking show (at least not in my opinion). Now, if she was saying something like, “I eat this all the time y’all and I’m healthy as a horse”, then maybe we could call her out for lying about it. But, as it stands now, I’ve never heard her make such a claim.

bea2345's avatar

@JilltheTooth -I don’t feel outrage, just sadness. Her behaviour was plain irresponsible.

mazingerz88's avatar

No, it was not wrong of her. It’s was a cooking show not a health campaign. I watched because it was entertaining to see her cook and salivate over the food. But I haven’t done any of her recipes and I doubt whether other people developed diabetes because of the show. If you are zoning in on principle, that her show doesn’t discourage unhealthy eating, that maybe overreaching since she is entitled to make money and we could always switch channels.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@bea2345 What does her being diabetic have to do with how to cook the recipes she cooks on her show? In order for her behavior to have been irresponsible, there would need to be a link between her being diabetic and her being able to show us how to prepare the recipes she cooks on her show. Her diabetes doesn’t interfere with her ability to teach others how to cook a certain way, even if it’s a way she shouldn’t be eating for herself anymore.

nikipedia's avatar

I’m not sure she did anything “wrong” per se, but she sure got what was coming to her, and I hope she’s a cautionary tale to her viewers. The “food” she cooks is disgusting.

saint's avatar

Nobody has to cook her recipes nor eat her food. And it is not as if she wasn’t already famous for her liberal use of butter and sugar. So what is left that has anything to do with you?

talljasperman's avatar

No…I assumed as much was inevitable when I saw her cooking with so much butter. It is pretty hard not to miss. Personally I thought she was going to have a heart attack first from all that cholesterol, but diabetes wasn’t too hard off.

bea2345's avatar

All of that is true. But is the fact that she is paid and paid well, the only consideration? “Let the buyer beware” lacks somewhat as a guide to life.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I don’t take medical advice from cooking shows or chefs. I take medical advice from medical professionals. I take culinary advice from cooking shows and chefs.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@bea2345 Does her being diabetic change her cooking show? It’s not about her being paid, it’s about the fact that her being diabetic doesn’t really affect her show unless she were to change what she’s cooking (which would change the show entirely).

SuperMouse's avatar

I think if I was a fan of Paula Deen I would feel duped. It just feels sketchy that she hid this until she was ready to shill for Big Pharma. It seems wrong to me.

Of course her health is her business, but in reality by facing up to her illness and admitting that the way she cooks and eats is a contributing factor to Type II Diabetes, she could have done some real good. She could have spread the word and helped her followers most of whom, (if they eat the types of food Deen is famous for preparing) probably have a larger than average risk of obesity and the health problems associated with obesity.

From a financial and marketing stand point, she could have corralled a whole new demographic and sold a boatload more cookbooks to the health conscious crowd. Instead she sold her soul to a pharmaceutical company just out to improve their bottom line.

My bottom line is shame on you Paula Deen.

Wow, @JilltheTooth, could this be the first question we have ever disagreed on? Oh wait, there was that tastes great/less filling controversy.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@SuperMouse : We have to disagree occasionally so people won’t think we’re one person, two accounts! ;-)

picante's avatar

I applaud Paula Deen for building an empire. She started from nothing but determination and some good southern recipes. In that sense, she’s a role model. While I don’t embrace the “unhealthiness” of her signature dishes, as others have pointed out, she’s not forcing the diet (she’s not even recommending the diet) on anyone.

Her health is certainly her private business.

Now to her product endorsement with Novo Nordisk – I don’t find the deal “morally” reprehensible. She’s an astute business woman. I suspect that long-term, she will parlay her condition into opportunities to promote better diet (and drugs!) for diabetics. And on balance, I believe that to be a good thing. Will she profit? Certainly. Will Novo Nordisk profit? Most certainly. Will her admirers benefit? I suspect so. Will she make some enemies along the way? The damage has already been done.

There is no right or wrong here. It’s “business” and, in my opinion, far less suspect than most business dealings.

Pandora's avatar

No. Anyone with a little sense can see how fattening and how much sugar her stuff has. That is what makes it tasty. If she advertised it as healthy food for overweight or diabetics than that is a different matter. But even if she did, I’ve seen the stuff that she puts in food. It may be tasty but hardly very healthy. People who are diabetics or who are watching their weight, know what to avoid. He own health issue is a private matter. And honestly, some people can eat all sorts of crap and never become diabetic or obese. It all about moderation.
Its like blame someone else for your disease. She’s not making anyone buy her stuff and make it and then shoveling it down peoples throat.
Its like when people blame McDonalds for selling fatty food. Everyone knows its fatty and yet they choose to eat there instead of buying a salad or taking a low fat lunch to work or buying a healthy cook book that can teach them to make something nutritious as well as tasty.
I think she didn’t say anything before because one it might hurt sales but mostly because she didn’t feel it was anyones business.

RocketGuy's avatar

If she believed that her recipes cause diabetes, then she would be hypocritical. If she believed that it just plain tastes good (I’ll bet it does!), then she wouldn’t be hypocritical.

Blackberry's avatar

@RocketGuy It’s has to be difficult to not know, though. Just saying the words “Donut Cheeseburger” should make one feel a bit cautious….....

filmfann's avatar

Diabetes isn’t caused solely by the food you eat. There are several contributing factors, from family history, to the amount of exercise you get, your weight, and, yes, the amount and kinds of food you eat.

She didn’t need to share this, but it was something people should know.
Kudos to her for sharing, but I wish she had done it sooner.

jca's avatar

A friend of mine just wrote me an email and said she likes that Paula Deen is “real” looking. Some celebrity chefs are stick thin and eat a bite of what they cook for the camera, but otherwise you know they’re just eating salads because they’re “model-thin.” Paula does look like many “regular” people which is probably one reason she is so appealing.

SpatzieLover's avatar

^I agree @jca. It’s one of the reasons we love her show so much. She reminds my son of a family friend of ours. They look almost identical and both have “different” voices my son’s choice of categorizing both women as someone he likes to listen to

She also cooks with regular people in her kitchen.

bea2345's avatar

We should be demanding a higher standard of conduct from the media than this. We depend on them (it?) for information, entertainment and for the reinforcement of shared values. Ms. Deen should have disclosed her health status earlier, because it raised basic concerns about what she did for a living. Those concerns are legitimate. Diabetes, hypertension, heart problems are all related to the Western diet, where excess is the norm. Programmes that push unhealthy diets do us no favours.

BandanaMike's avatar

@bea2345 We do not have to “demand” anything of her. She has a right to her private life and you have no right to demand anything from her. Paula Deen didn’t push anything. It is just a cooking show! You don’t like the show? Change the channel.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I’m afraid, @bea2345 , that by your reckoning then 99% of all media programming would have to be revised or removed. I’m not sure I’d want to live in a place where all entertainment and information was subject to censorship by committee. Who, exactly, would be on that committee?

elbanditoroso's avatar

@bea, if you don’t like Deen, don’t watch her. TV shows live and die based on ratings – the number of people watching. If enough people quit watching, she’ll be history.

She owes nothing to anyone but her family.

bea2345's avatar

Who was talking about censorship? not I. She owes the viewer the opportunity to judge the quality of the item she is vending. Concealing her health status was NOT candid. Furthermore, I have never watched Paula Deen but I do read the newspapers. This gives me an idea of yet another show I shall not watch.

One more point. Am I the one of the few that see something wrong here?

BandanaMike's avatar

@bea2345 It is none of your business. Paula Deen’s private life is none of your business. Just because she is a celebrity doesn’t mean that you should have all access to her life. Her viewers do have the opportunity to judge what she has on her show. They do it when they are sitting on the couch in front of the tv. Just like any other show. Viewers do judge what they see. Why would anyone assume otherwise?

JilltheTooth's avatar

Considering that she has NO power over us whatsoever, she’s not an elected official, an appointed cabinet member or anything like that, I think her rights as a citizen should be respected as much as yours or mine. She has no obligation to the American people, any more than the writers of The Big Bang Theory have an obligation to represent physicists in a specific way, or the writers of the various CSI series are required to represent forensic workers absolutely accurately.

saint's avatar

@JilltheTooth Great answer. You should save the text and paste it into about half the questions asked on Fluther. It is a point lost on many.

bea2345's avatar

It is my business. She sells a product that is known to be harmful, her programme is broadcast to the world and if that trash is sold in my country, I should not speak up? Of course she is entitled to sell anything that is legal, but it is ridiculous to suppose that by objecting I am interfering with her first amendment rights. At no time have I suggested legislative means to stop her career, of of any body else’s.

Incidentally, @JilltheTooth , as you mention The Big Bang Theory , which is one of the better satires, I am reminded of a perennial argument that takes place here in Trinidad. At Carnival time, calypso is the chief music heard. On the radio it is reasonably clean but in the tents – the name for the theatres where they perform – the calypsonians are direct, profane, and uninhibited. Quite a few politicians have seen their careers go south because of a clever calypso. In 1974 a very popular song wasIndrani. It was catchy, had a good tune and was certainly obscene. It offended a number of people, as being disrespectful of the Indian woman; but it was not seditious, it did not incite to riot, nor did it slander anybody, as the Commissioner of Police had to advise the Prime Minister, whom it certainly did offend. BTW, Lord Shorty, the calypsonian, was never charged. _. My point? people who are attacked in song have recourse to the letters to the Editor, unless s/he is fortunate to be able to reply in like form and have it performed in public. When the calypso season is particularly creative, the letters to the Editor can be very entertaining.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@bea2345 You still have not told me where her diabetes interferes with her ability to cook food. Just because it’s food she should no longer be eating doesn’t mean she can’t cook it for others and teach others to cook it.

nikipedia's avatar

@Seaofclouds, I think it’s irresponsible to promote that kind of eating in any fashion. Like @bea2345 said, I don’t think it should be illegal, but I definitely think anyone who does it is stupid, irresponsible, and gross.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@nikipedia Okay, but that’s the cooking/eating in general. What does that have to do with her being diabetic? Does her being diabetic suddenly change your view of the food she cooks?

nikipedia's avatar

@Seaofclouds, nope, I just think she got what she deserved.

jonsblond's avatar

Anyone who thinks that Paula Deen eats the food she prepares on her show 3 times a day, 7 days a week is ignorant. If she did she would weigh 500lbs. Only a stupid person would think that it’s ok to eat her food every day.

Her recipes are not meant to be used for every day life. I looked up some of her brownie recipes for Christmas because I knew her recipes would be the most decadent. Seriously, who wants a healthy brownie for the holidays? I made the best creme de menthe brownies thanks to Paula. The thing is, it was one occasion. She admits that she doesn’t eat this way every day. Even if she’s lying, who the fuck cares. She’s not a doctor or providing a show about healthy eating. Her food is meant for special occasions.

I don’t think Paula did anything wrong. Her health is her own private business.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@bea2345 : Try as I might, I can’t find the political satire in Paula Deen’s cooking lessons. Gee.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

It’s TV. That’s all.

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