Thursday, January 19, 2012

What Happened to Prevention?

I don’t think many of us were surprised to hear the other day that Paula Deen was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, but maybe a little surprised that she was diagnosed 3 years ago. Before I get too far into this, let me say that I feel horrible for anyone who has to face this horrible disease, and would never wish it on anyone. That being said, I was a little annoyed when she revealed to Al Roker on the “Today Show” Tuesday morning that she was diagnosed so long ago and just now felt like it was time to tell her millions of fans who take pride in making the butter-drenched dishes she promotes on her shows and in her magazine. I totally get the need to keep private matters private, at least for a time, but she has many platforms available to her that can use to help others, three years seems like a long time to me.

During her “Today Show” interview and in subsequent print interviews, like the one she did for THIS article in the New York Times, Deen recounts preaching that everything should be enjoyed in moderation, she won’t blame herself and stresses that Type 2 can be caused by a host of things beyond diet and who gets it is a sort of “Russian Roulette game'”. Type 2 can be caused by inactivity, age, excess weight, high calorie diets, family history and heredity. We can’t do anything about our family history or our race, but we can do something about what we eat and how active we are. I found it particularly interesting that while she stressed genetics as a factor in multiple interviews, she also said that her grandmother cooked and ate the same way she did and didn’t have it. Maybe it was just me, but it seems as though she’s still in a bit of denial that her diet has something to do with her diagnosis. She has given up sweet tea and is eating smaller portions, though.

Here’s the thing. While I’m glad she’s come out and told the world she has this condition, which may make some people take note about their own lives and see their doctor, it’s interesting that the official announcement came the same day her new multi-platform endorsement of the Novo Nordisk medication (which costs $500/month) was launched. I’m also concerned that she may be more focused on controlling the disease with the and the “lighter” meals she and her sons will promote on the new website, than encouraging prevention. Yes, life doesn’t have to stop for people with Diabetes, but people don’t have to get it, either. She and her sons will be paid by the Pharma company to promote the drug, and as it turns out, they announced Wednesday that they’ll be donating a portion of their profits to charity. What charity and how much? Who knows.

We tend to focus so much time, effort and money on trying to cure or control diseases rather than preventing them. While we all need to take responsibility for our own lives and the choices we make along the way, sometimes we also need a little guidance once in a while. We’re all experts in certain things, but we’re not all experts in health and nutrition and look to others to help us along. While I would never look to Deen for advice on nutrition, it’s a shame that with such a huge following, she’s more focused on promoting a drug rather than promoting a healthy lifestyle which could possibly help prevent the disease from affecting many of her fans to begin with. Hopefully out of all this hoopla, people who are at risk will start making changes and listening to health experts to turn things around and live healthy lives. At the same time, hopefully those who are on a healthy road will stay there!

Approximately 26 million Americans have Diabetes, 90% of whom have the highly preventable Type 2. Let’s focus on spreading the word about healthy eating, staying active and lowering obesity rates and in turn, hopefully, keep people from getting this horrible disease.

Okay, I’m done with my rant. Thanks for reading!

  • What do you think about Paula Deen’s announcement and diagnosis?
  • What are your thoughts about prevention vs treatment?


Today’s workout -

  • 2x15 cable side twists (ea. side)
  • 2x15 squatting row
  • 2x20 kick-backs
  • 35min elliptical
  • 1x40sec plank
  • 1x35sec superman hold
  • stretching


Kate said...

This is such a well done post and I couldn't agree more with every bit of it. She definitely seems to be in denial. How does she not see the connection between her saturated fat and sugar dishes and her diabetes? It is as clear as day.

I am also slightly uncomfortable with her partnership with a big pharma company. It all feels so wrong.

Emily said...

I'm pretty uncomfortable with Paula Deen. First of all, I think it is pretty clear that type II diabetes is pretty preventable. I *think* I would be more comfortable with her talking about ways to prevent diabetes and lifestyle changes for those people with diabetes. I'm a grad student in public health so maybe I am just partial to any and all prevention. I also don't like that she took so long to make her announcement and that it was a PR thing. I saw that Today show interview and it made me mad.

Susan said...

Here's my two cents..... it's judgmental, for sure..... I think it's all about money for Ms. Deen. She's made a ton making food that is NOT healthy at all. She can say what she wants, but I'm not buying the "in moderation" crap she's saying she's been doing..... apparently she's not eating these things in moderation. If she wasn't in it for the money then she would have come out with her diagnosis earlier and only decided to come clean when she was offered a big contract with a drug company. And THIS is what we are paying for when we are prescribed the drug and we have it filled..... Ms. Deen's compensation for her "time" selling the drug. There ya go..... my two cents.

Melissa said...

I also agree, it's all about the money for her.

She says she's always suggested moderation. I think she's anything BUT moderation

Jessica said...

Where I love PD she's wreckless for the average person. While YES adding butter automatically makes things taste magical the average person won't practice moderation or have just one crazy dish a day. However, she's only doing what she's doing because there is the demand/interest in it...I think we should not blame her and blame the lack of nutrition education in our society. If people only were taught properly and it's gotta start young.

Maria said...

You know, I am pretty sarcastic so when she announced she was diabetic, her son's new show about making his mama's meal healthier it all made sense. And then when I heard about the prescription for this disease she is endorsing it REALLY made sense that it is all about the money. And while she advocates about moderation, she has been less than moderate at least in her shows. Good gosh, the woman puts a tons of butter, sugars and fats in all of her dishes. And I so have to agree about her being in denial about her food but more than that I think it is her way of not putting to much emphasis in that area; it is her business after all... and she in my opinion is being very irresponsible. She really lost some brownie points with me.

Lisa_earlymorningrun said...

I agree with you, Jessica. Young kids need to learn about nutrition. I think people in a lot of generations haven't learned about proper nutrition so the question is, who's responsible for teaching kids today? It's a shame more people don't, or aren't able to, spend the time and attention to nutrition that's needed.

Susan- Nurse on the Run said...

Sorry, super late comment! I haven't heard much except the bare minimum about the Paul Deen announcement, although I prevention is definitely hugely underrated in this country! It's astonishing how much money we spend on health care, yet our country is not high at all on the list of healthy countries. We'd rather try to fix the problem after than try to prevent it, and even when people are told that they have a disease such as diabetes that can be controlled with lifestyle changes, they would rather just take a pill.

We don't teach prevention, nutrition, exercise, and healthy living in our schools, nor do parents know it themselves, so it's just an ongoing process.