Celebrity chef Paul Deen — the queen of sugary, high-fat Southern comfort food — faced immediate criticism after revealing this week that she has had type 2 diabetes for years — an illness that can be brought on by poor diet and excess weight. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine named her Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible one of the five unhealthiest cookbooks of 2011, and fellow chef Anthony Bourdain, who has called Deen the "most dangerous person to America," said Deen had shown "bad taste" by continuing to tout high-fat cooking after her diagnosis. Is the criticism fair?
Deen's sanctimonious critics should be ashamed: The cold-hearted "anti-fat crusaders" who are blaming Deen for her illness don't even have their facts straight, says Paul Campos at The Daily Beast. The most exhaustive study to date found "no evidence that a high-fat diet plays any role in causing type 2 diabetes." If anyone should be ashamed here, it's Bourdain, who's indulging "in our national pastime of blaming the victims of misfortune for their plight."
"No proof Paula Deen's high-fat Southern cooking caused her diabetes"
The scolds are right: As distasteful as all this "self-righteousness" sounds, says Alexandra Petri at The Washington Post, there's no question this is "a victory for the kale-and-pushups camp. It's a food-morality tale. Eat what Paula Deen cooks, and look what happens." The signs are everywhere: America's obesity rate is skyrocketing, portion sizes are ballooning, "gout is back." "Those who live by the sword often die by the sword. Those who live by the butter..."
"Paula Deen and our unhealthy fixation"
The important thing is she's mending her ways: Deen kept mum about her diagnosis for three years, says Riva Greenberg at The Huffington Post, but "I give her a lot of credit for putting her credibility and career at risk" by finally coming clean. There are almost 26 million Americans with diabetes and 79 million with pre-diabetes. Paula Deen is now "using her popularity" to make them aware of the importance of healthy eating and exercise.
"Paula Deen's diabetes: Are we getting the right message?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Surviving a plane crash
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Ted Cruz and the most cynical, despicable political stunt of the year
- Everything you need to master Chinese cooking
- When men who abstain from pre-marital sex get married
- Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: The man who would be caliph
- The greatest sniper duel in history is a myth
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
Subscribe to the Week