Chef living high on the hog in obesity crisis

Political scandals? A dime a dozen.

What we don’t often see is a culinary/medical/media scandal as outrageous as TV chef Paula Deen’s recent admission that she has had Type 2 diabetes for three years.

Family history and genes play a large role in this often debilitating disease, but activity level, excess body weight and poor diet are just as dangerous, according to the National Library of Medicine. Deen, 65, is also a smoker who shuns exercise.

She is a former restaurant operator in Savannah, Ga., the author of five cookbooks and has had a relationship with the Food Network since 1999.

She is famous for her flamboyant personality and Southern cooking style that relies heavily on multiple sticks of butter and pounds of bacon.

Deen has been heavily criticized by health advocates and other chefs for her unhealthy reliance on fat, salt and sugar in her recipes.

She was most severely condemned for the “Lunch-Box Set,” a cookbook for children.

“You tell kids to have cheesecake for breakfast,” said interviewer Barbara Walters. “You tell them to have chocolate cake and meatloaf for lunch. And french fries. Doesn’t it bother you that you’re adding to this (obesity epidemic)?”

A $10 million annual income can apparently ease even the most guilty conscience.

It is no coincidence that the regional diet Deen teaches people to cook has left a wide swatch of Southern states with the highest obesity rates in the nation.

But here’s the twin scandal to the Deen revelations:

First, that she waited three years to tell people that the diet she was teaching them to cook was killing her.

Second, that she only made the announcement after inking a lucrative contract with the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, which claims to be an industry leader in diabetes care, an unfortunate growth industry in the U.S.

Would she have said anything at all without the drug-company contract? We doubt it.

Deen says she will continue showing people how to cook her unhealthy brand of cuisine, although she will probably start telling them to “practice moderation” a little louder than before.

Meanwhile, she will donate some unspecified portion of her Novo Nordisk loot to diabetes research.

One TV viewer interviewed by The Associated Press put Deen’s announcement in perspective: “It would be like someone who goes on TV and brags about how wonderful it is to smoke two packs of cigarettes a day and then when he or she gets lung cancer, becomes a paid spokesperson for nicotine patches.”

Several other celebrity chefs were gagging on the news of Deen’s announcement.

“When your signature dish is a hamburger in between a doughnut, and you’ve been cheerfully selling this stuff knowing all along that you’ve got Type 2 diabetes, it’s in bad taste, if nothing else,” said chef Anthony Bourdain.

In case anyone has forgotten, about a third of the adults in this country are obese, while another third are overweight. Nearly 17 percent of children are obese and another 15 percent overweight.

This quickly emerging health-care crisis will cost us billions of dollars as these people age and develop Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

When that crisis hits, Deen will be sitting on a pile of cash to pay for her medical care. Millions of her followers and their families won’t be as fortunate.

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and editorial board.

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.



MARK GRAVEL's picture

Mr. Rhodes, The same freedom

Mr. Rhodes,

The same freedom that gives Paula Deen the right to be hypocritical gives us the freedom of personal responsibility to moderate or avoid her cuisine.

“This quickly emerging health-care crisis will cost us billions of dollars as these people age and develop Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.”

Well, this is an unexpected consequence when we treat healthcare as a collective responsibility.

We should use Mr. Rhodes' behavior as an example of what is to come as we move down a path of socialized healthcare – an increasing number of Nannies telling you what you should or shouldn’t be doing; an increasing number of Nannies telling you what you can or can’t do; an increasing number of Politicians legislating what to do or not do.

Perhaps Hew Hampshire got is right – Live Free or Die!

Or in Paula’s case – Eat Freely then Die.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

How many laws has Ms. Deen

How many laws has Ms. Deen broken, Rex? Hmmmmm?

 's picture

None yet, but check back in 5

None yet, but check back in 5 years when ObamaCare is in full force and she'll likely be a felon. Then Rex Rhoades will be happy (Rex has never been one to understand how anyone with any sense or any shred of moral decency can possibly disagree with his view of what's right and what's wrong, freedom of choice be darned)

Steve  Dosh's picture

Chef living high on the hog in obesity crisis

12.01.20 ƒlyday drafted 12:12 Ma'ui time
Post a picture , Patti • :)
. .The only diet that makes n e sense to me is a low carb - no carb diet , i . e., cut out the pasta , pizza , and beer ( fried foods , too :)
/s, Dr. Dosh , Not necessarily an endorsement ---> Healthy Food for Lazy People You know who you are . . . you want to walk in harmony with the earth, eat happily, healthfully and cherish your body like the awesome temple that it is. But the temptation .. .

Patti Marshall-Parise's picture


The only thing outrageous here is this editorial. Paula Deen never claimed she was cooking healthy food and anyone with any common sense would realize that. Furthermore, she didn't invent southern cooking, it's been around for generations. Her health is her business not ours. She is under no obligaton to tell anyone if she doesn't wish to. As for Anthony Bourdain, ever watch his show, alcohol for breakfast anyone.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Great points, Patti...Another

Great points, Patti...Another media 'feeding frenzy'.

 's picture


Rex Rhoades is, again, wrong on so many levels it's hard to know where to start or when to end.

First of all, when Deen signed her contract, she did not sign a contract to join the Food Police. She was (and is) under no obligation to offer up healthy eating fare. If you dislike her choices DONT WATCH THE SHOW. Ladies, Paula is not your personal friend, you don't have any right to peer into her off-camera life except as she chooses to allow you to. She is not obligated to share her medical conditions with the public or anyone else. She did not sign on to be your role model. She signed on to share her cooking style with the public. I know this gives the sanctimonious Food Police fits, but Obamacare hasn't fully kicked in, and until it does, we still have the right to decide what we eat and how much of it we eat no matter how much angst it causes people like the editor of this paper. Deen's style of cooking is what it is, and it irritates me that people get all huffy over it. I can't stress enough, if it offends your sensibilities, don't watch the show! If Deen's attempt to keep her private life private offends you, stop watching the show -- that will deliver the message loudly and clearly. Face it people, the cost of having a free society is that people will not always make the "best" choices ("best" as determined by you), and you just have to live with it, worry about wiping your own nose and move on to more important things.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Holy Smoke, Andrew

That's one hell of a tongue lashing. Go have a couple of whoopie pies and chill out. Have a nice weekend,Mr. Rhoades, and don't forget to eat your veggies.

 's picture

Nah, I don't like Whoopie

Nah, I don't like Whoopie Pies -- how about a double cheeseburger topped with bacon and a fried Snicker's bar on the side?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

What about the cheese-fries

What about the cheese-fries laced with bacon bits?

AL PELLETIER's picture

No thanks Andrew

I'll just have a couple of beers and some salty pretzels. The Lepage diet.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The parrot sez he doesn't

The parrot sez he doesn't think you could handle two beers, Al. Any truth to that? I gave him a thimble of tequila once; he spoke in Spanish for about a week.

AL PELLETIER's picture

40 oz.

Tell the parrot they used to call me 40 back in the good old days, now it's just 12 with a twist of lime.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Shall I tell him in English

Shall I tell him in English or Spanish? The Pirate has always considered 40 oz. of beer in one setting a pretty good afternoon. These days, that would be considered catastrophic.

 's picture


I could go for that, big soft pretzels with coarse salt and gobs of strong mustard, and good, cheap beer

AL PELLETIER's picture

Ya man

Old Swill Ice !!

 's picture

Old Swill

About as cheap as you can get, but I'm shocked to see PBR is making a comeback of sorts. Just goes to show there's no accounting for taste.


Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...