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Posted at 12:25 PM ET, 01/17/2012

Paula Deen hawks diabetes drug

Y’all have probably heard that celebrity chef Paula Deen announced Tuesday morning what many had been speculating about for days: She has Type 2 diabetes.


Southern cook, author and television cooking personality Paula Deen. (MARVIN JOSEPH/TWP)
Deen, 64, says she was diagnosed three years ago. She’s taking a drug called Victoza (more on that in a minute). And she doesn’t really plan to make major changes to her lifestyle, she says breezily in a video posted on her new “Diabetes in a New Light “ Web site.

After her diagnosis, Deen says, “I wasn’t about to change my life. But I have made simple changes IN my life.” Those include, she says, cutting back on her sweet-tea consumption, taking more walks with her husband and running after her grandchildren.

On that Web site, Deen talks about her experience with diabetes and pledges to provide lightened-up, diabetic-friendly versions of her recipes, which are typically high in fats and carbohydrates.

The site also serves to advertise Victoza, a non-insulin, daily injectable medication that’s meant to help the pancreas manage insulin production so as to better control blood sugar. Victoza, made by Novo Nordisk, may also help people lose weight; overweight is a risk factor for this form of diabetes. But the drug’s Web site notes that the drug “is not recommended as the first medication to treat diabetes.” The drug is not included among the non-insulin injectable diabetes treatments listed on the American Diabetes Association’s Web site. In June 2011 the FDA issued a notice alerting physicians to the drug’s possible, serious side effects, including increased risk of pancreatitis and perhaps thyroid cancer.

If you sign up for Deen’s diabetes newsletter via her Web site, be aware that the registration form looks like a market-research survey for Novo Nordisk — and the information you provide will be shared with the drug-maker.

The “Diabetes in a New Light” Web site today features just one recipe, for lasagna. A note at the bottom of the page says the material has been reviewed by a committee of the American Dietetic Association (which recently changed its name to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics). As it would happen, Deen’s son Bobby Deen has just launched a new TV show called “Not My Mama's Meals,” which offers lighter versions of Deen-style Southern favorites.

There’s a fair amount of cynicism swirling around the timing of Deen’s announcement, whether her cooking style contributed to her developing diabetes, and her promotion of Victoza. But comments on her Facebook are mostly supportive. What do you think?

Note: At the time this blog post was published, I was waiting for return calls from the American Diabetes Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I will add updates as needed.

By  |  12:25 PM ET, 01/17/2012

 
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