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Miley Cyrus: Unintentional public health agent?

April 11, 2012|By Alexandra Le Tellier
  • Miley Cyrus arrives at the Muhammad Ali's Celebrity Fight Night XVIII on March 24 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Miley Cyrus arrives at the Muhammad Ali's Celebrity Fight Night XVIII… (Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images )

Miley Cyrus had the willpower to resist a Wendy’s meal on Sunday night, but not enough willpower to resist tweeting about it. The tweet prompted accusations that the recently slimmed-down star is anorexic, to which Cyrus tweeted back: “For everyone calling me anorexic I have a gluten and lactose allergy. It's not about weight it's about health.”

It was a refreshing response from a female celebrity. Usually when a woman in Hollywood talks about food, it’s about how much she likes to gorge herself on comfort food. “The starlet, usually of slim and gamine proportions, appears to thwart our expectations by ordering and consuming, with conspicuous relish, a meal that might satisfy a hungry dockworker,” Jeff Gordinier wrote last year in a New York Times article that asked, “For actresses, is a big appetite part of the show?” He continued:  “Such passages are widespread enough in the pages of American periodicals that at least one longtime film publicist, Jeremy Walker, has coined a term of art for them: the documented instance of public eating, or DIPE. Consider, for example, Cate Blanchett impulse-ordering a side of Parmesan-fried zucchini at a restaurant in London and impishly telling a writer from Vogue that she doesn’t intend to share: ‘I think we’d each better get our own, or things could get ugly.’ ”

So, Cyrus’ initial tweet, though not a big deal, was at least genuine. Unlike many of her contemporaries, she’s not selling an unattainable fantasy. Because let’s face it: The majority of people can’t eat mac and cheese with reckless abandon and look like Cameron Diaz.

But it was Cyrus’ second message that really struck a chord and may resonate with her impressionable fans. With obesity and diabetes a top public health concern in this country, Cyrus’ seemingly mindless tweet may actually have a positive influence -- that there are consequences to what we eat beyond an expanding waistline.

One group that may have Cyrus’ back is the collection of doctors and healthcare professionals who recently convened at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone to continue their education on how health and nutrition are intertwined. “Although physicians are on the front lines of the nation’s diabetes and obesity crises, many graduate from medical school with little knowledge of nutrition, let alone cooking,” wrote Patricia Leigh Brown in a Tuesday New York Times article. “It is a deficiency that is becoming increasingly apparent as the grim statistics climb.”


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Follow Alexandra Le Tellier on Twitter: @alexletellier

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