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BOOSTER SHOTS: Oddities, musings and news from the
health world

Some groups see opportunity in Paula Deen's Type 2 diabetes

January 17, 2012|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Since TV chef Paula Deen announced she has Type 2 diabetes, organizations have been coming forward with help and information about the disease.
Since TV chef Paula Deen announced she has Type 2 diabetes, organizations… (Associated Press )

Out of tragedy often comes opportunity, which seems to be how several organizations are looking at the news that popular Southern chef Paula Deen has Type 2 diabetes.

Deen was diagnosed with the disease three years ago but came clean Tuesday morning on the Today show, where she told Al Roker that she had also teamed up with pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk on a new website, Diabetesinanewlight.com. She takes the company's diabetes medication Victoza.

As soon as the news broke Tuesday morning we began receiving news releases from various organizations wanting to jump on the Deen bandwagon. We can hardly say we're surprised -- almost 26 million people in the U.S. have the condition, and since it's linked with obesity, it's not going away any time soon.

The American Diabetic Assn. agreed with Deen that the disease can be managed and plugged its Living With Type 2 Diabetes program, a free online plan designed to help people just diagnosed with the disease manage their condition.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Assn.) would like to remind people that "the first line of defense for the prevention and management of Type 2 diabetes is a healthy diet and regular exercise."

Registered dietitian and Academy spokeswoman Constance Brown-Riggs said in a news release, "In fact, with the assistance of a registered dietitian, diet, exercise and weight loss can also reverse prediabetes, which affects an estimated 79 million people."

She suggested that those who are prediabetic start with a consultation with a registered dietitian (some insurance companies may cover the sessions).

One release we received was directed toward Deen herself. It was from the Physicans Committee for Responsible Medicine, an animal rights organization that promotes veganism. In a letter to Deen, PCRM nutrition education director Susan Levin wrote, "As a native Alabamian who grew up on Southern cooking, I can assure you that Southern classics such as mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese translate very well into hearty, delicious vegan dishes."

But veganism (and vegetarianism, for that matter) doesn't always translate into a healthful diet. There are plenty of junk food vegans and vegetarians who subsist on unhealthful carb-heavy foods such as white bread, candy and chips because they don't know how to eat a balanced diet and aren't familiar with non-animal protein sources.

We featured a vegan couple in our Pantry Raid series, and we also did a Web chat with author Gary Taubes, who advocates cutting back on simple carbs for better health and to lose weight.

No doubt there will be more of these before the week is out. We'll keep you posted.

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