Overheard on CNN.com: Paula Deen's diabetes, chocolate slavery, food stamps
Food Network host Paula Deen created a bit of controversy when she revealed she's had type 2 diabetes for three years.
January 20th, 2012
07:28 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Paula Deen's diabetes, chocolate slavery, food stamps

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Some of the biggest talkers in the news this week have been stories revolving around food that might make you look at your menu a little differently.

Paula Deen, change your diet

Lots of our readers have been talking about Paula Deen's type 2 diabetes revelation. The popular foodie has had the disease for three years, and is now a paid spokesperson for a diabetes medication. Andrew Weil issued her a challenge to change her eating. Some folks were outraged. Here's what one disenchanted fan said:

NekoMouser: "You know, I used to get Paula's back. I'm from the South and I love Southern cooking. I just love it in some moderation now that I'm older. However, to know not only that this sort of diet has actually made her sick, but that she hid that sickness for three years (while still pimping this diet to her fans) UNTIL she could ink a deal to profit off selling drugs to help treat the illness she's also helping to create ... there is something diabolically twisted about that. It's like doing cigarette ads while secretly having lung cancer and only coming out once you get a lucrative cancer treatment spokesperson job ... while still selling cigarettes, too. It's the profiting at both ends that is so wrong."

Some comments came in defending Deen:

looney0tunes: "I watch Paula Deen's show on the Food Network. She always mentions that she doesn't eat like that every day and suggests to eat in moderation. Leave Paula alone."

Several commenters were baffled.

Nancee1234: "I think hiding the diagnosis and continuing to push fatty, high-carb foods doesn't say much about what she thinks of her audience. Either she's in total denial about her dietary malfunctions or she just doesn't care about who she's teaching what to. But, to 'come out' along with signing on to a drug company is really the bottom. I don't think she's anywhere near getting it. Pathetic. Profit over her audience's health."

But some people said diabetes is not inevitable.

Tomego: "My grandma lived to 103, almost 104 eating that same diet. Some people are more prone to it and others live just fine on it. Stop hating on someone because they are cooking what they enjoy. I'd rather enjoy what I am eating and die early than live a few extra years eating stuff I deplore for my entire life. If you don't like how she cooks, don't watch her show. That simple."

This reader posted a comment critical of Weil, and got several likes.

ding6: "Ah, yes Mr. Wiel, you are, of course, smarter than everyone else. And smug, too, I see. Much of the obesity is due to low-income folks who cannot afford to buy the fixin's for healthy eats. And the single mother working two jobs who is just too exhausted at the end of the day to prepare 'from scratch' meals. Why don't you post a full profile shot of your svelte chassis? Your beard doesn't hide your chubby cheeks."

A few theories popped up, and there were also skeptics.

TWATX: "She was diagnosed in 2008 and didn't feel the need to share then. Now when a drug company's backing her, it's big news. This is all about $$$. Keep cooking unhealthy food, Paula, so you and your drug company can make more money."

liberty89: "Sounds like a good business strategy by a private citizen. Unhealthy food would still be in demand if Paula was a 110-pound vegan."

Some said this is typical American mentality.

Markham51: "Paula is just another influence peddler. Eat fatty foods ... then take drugs to fix the problem (don't forget MY cut!) It's no wonder why we are the fattest most medicated people in the world!"

Onward to another story people are talking about.

Child slavery and chocolate: All too easy to find

CNN is taking a look at the role of child slavery in chocolate production as part of the ongoing Freedom Project special. Plus, CNN iReport is challenging readers to get creative with fair-trade chocolate.

A few of our readers said we can't expect to get something for nothing (or close to it).

Guri Singh: "I am sorry to say this but here it goes: We humans (all over the world) are responsible for what Abdul and other kids like him go through. It is our greed that makes us take advantage of others. Yes, it is us consumers, who want that 50-cent chocolate bar, the same price we paid 10 or 20 years ago. Something is amiss. We cannot get a cheap chocolate bar and still want everyone to get fair price/wages. We, the consumers, need to change our behavior. Say NO to companies that don't use fair price and non-child labor cacao. A child is supposed to be in SCHOOL and not working for your chocolate."

maary: "Do you really think the corporations that exploit these children would pay them more if they charged more? The whole reason for going to these countries is that they have nothing. ... They can pay them pennies, or as this chid is paid, in food ... Sorry. The greed of the rich would not allow for paying these people more. But charging us more? Yes, they would do that."

Some say it's not a surprise.

John: "You're kidding, right. Everything manufactured has some sort of 'slave' labor. Your iPhone, shoes, clothing, food .... you think your fellow American works minimum wage in the hot sun picking grapes? It's been here all the time, people are just ignorant to the obvious till it affects them financially or emotionally."

Some say kids could be harmed if their income, no matter how small, is taken away.

whatsitreally?: "These injustices have been brought to the American media, see? And what will happen now? The Americans will buy less chocolate and some of these kids will be left with no way to feed themselves? I know it is not fair these kids do not have the opportunities our kids have. I know it's not right for a child to go without an education in today's world. But their home and our home are two very different places. Before you decide to never buy any chocolate ever again, make sure there is an alternative for these children in place. No need to make a bad situation worse."

This commenter tries to buy Fair Trade chocolate.

Anchorite: "I have not eaten chocolate or cocoa unless certified third-party as fair trade in several years now since seeing this on the Independent's website. Amazingly, I'm not dead yet, and I have found sources of slavery-free chocolate http://vision.ucsd.edu/~kbranson/stopchocolateslavery/ And it's shocking how some heartless people on here are like, 'Well I worked as a kid so this is fine.' It's like Donald Rumsfeld saying sometimes he stands up all day at work so it can't be that bad to torture POW's with stress positions. Agricultural slavery is kidnapping, false imprisonment, assault, and if you die while in bondage, then it is also murder. It is robbing someone's entire life. I thought we answered this in 1865 but apparently some people think it's OK to live the good life by treating others like chattel."

max: "Did you make sure that your underwear and clothes are fair trade? All clothes sold in the malls and Wal-Mart, Macy's, Gap, etc., are child-labor extensive ... in India, Bangladesh, China. Vietnam, etc."

Finally, onward to an opinion post on another hot topic in a tough economy.

Criticism aside, food stamp program is "an essential lifeline" for 46 million people

Author Stacy Dean asserts that food stamps are essential. An interesting discussion started on the Eatocracy blog. Many were upset about the food stamp program.

Down by the river: "LOLZ, there is a culture embedded here that teaches their children to seek out all of the assistance programs available as a means for life-long sustenance. The cycle is then repeated with their children. It’s not completely their fault. The government should rewrite the rules on some of it such as 'If you make more than $300 a month you can't receive any benefits from this program.' WTH!?!! Who can live on that? You are better off sitting at home and getting the freebies!"

Some said food stamps are problematic.

Trollie McFischerman: "Public aid of any kind is the liberal agenda. Steal from those who've earned it and pass it out to lazy bums who sit on the couch all day. Have some pride! Get a job! Sick of those leaching off of others."

Name: "Because every employer offers a living wage and none of them pay only the totally inadequate minimum wage? No they don't. They get employees for as little as they can because anything a CEO saves makes him richer. These programs are based on bridging the gap between a living wage and what corporate bigwigs are willing to offer. The problem is that there is an imbalance. The cost of living is higher than many so-called employers are willing to pay. The question is, does the problem lie in the fact that the labor is not worth that amount of fiat money, or is the problem that the so-called employer doesn't have a working business plan? Perhaps the so-called employer's idea for a business sucks and the so-called employer should give it up and get a job."

VladT: "Without those employers, there are no jobs. By the way, you are implying that everyone on food stamps is working. That is a complete fabrication of the truth. Us working people are upset that our taxes are being used for people who DO NOT work and yet get free food, as well as other assistance."

This reader suggested a change in priorities.

Truth™: "As much as I have a complete, total and utter disdain for politicians of both stripes these days, I think it is a complete travesty that we give aid to nations that hate us, while our own people are going hungry. Makes we want to grab a pitchfork and head to DC."

What do you think? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Food • Overheard on CNN.com
soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. FrankO

    Who be throwin' that ham at me?

    January 23, 2012 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
  2. bunbytes

    OMG! I am a 58 year old type 2 Diabetic who struggles with controlling this disease. I also have a degree as a cooking teacher (B.S) and I know what to eat and how to cook healthy. I make my choices every day and they are not always the right ones. Paula Dean does not affect what I put into my mouth. She is popular because people like her style of cooking – period.
    Her endorsement of diabetes meds is no different than any other endorsement. Did you hear an uproar when Christopher Meloni (Law and Order SVU) starred in a Viagra commercial? That was kind of ironic if you think about it. No one forces people to watch her show, buy her books, etc. Her hawking diabetes meds now falls into the same captive audience area of advertisements that restaurants are in. Just watching the plates of food dripping with cheese, fatty sauces and fried fare, makes me nauseous. The American restaurant industry depends on us to indulge on this health-damaging fare and they are masters of enticement. If you think it is damaging our health for Dean to tout her Southern style cooking and make money off of diabetes meds, why aren’t we raging about restaurant ads? I can choose not to watch Ms. Dean’s shows or buy her books. I have to be really quick with the remote to avoid the commercials featuring heart attacks on a plate.
    Get a grip people. We must all take the lead in our health and it is an extremely hard task given our lifestyles and advertisement bombardment. Take responsibility for your own health.

    January 23, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  3. Veganman

    Couldn't have happened to a nicer lady.

    January 23, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  4. Coolbreeze

    Wow, the American public was fooled by an overweight Southern woman with a deep fried twinkie hanging out of her mouth. Go figure. Certainly not right for her to keep it from her audience but what is more alarming is her popularity with this type of diet in the first place. I'd worry about yourself America.

    January 23, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dude

    As far as I know Paula Deen is not a formally trained chef. She cooks traditional Southern cuisine. Southern cuisine involves things like fried chicken, biscuits, and pecan pie. It tastes good and it is part of a traditional regional lifestyle. I love the way that Northern, liberal, birkenstock-wearing, NPR listening, Northerners are cool with traditional cultures and traditional lifestyles everywhere around the world except for right here in the U.S.A. In the name of cultural understanding, they will defend a woman's right to wear a burkha and get beat with a stick, but villify anyone eating fried chicken and a biscuit.

    January 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. marsmotel

    She has now been entered in my death pool! Go cholesterol!

    January 23, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Brad

    Really??? Listen to yourselves haters. Paula Deen is not responsible for Diabetes or what we eat. She hosts a cooking show that is largely entertainment. She shows the viewing audience how to prepare food. No one is under any obligation to cook or eat any of the recipes. Regarding endorsements, she's doing the same thing that many professional athletes do and some of their behavior is far more negative and destructive than a helping of Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding..........so stick with your lettuce eating, fat free lifestyles and allow me and millions of others to make the choices afforded us by living in a democracy.........

    January 23, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Travelinpants

    If you have watched her show or eaten some of her food or prepared it from her cookbook, you know it isnt the healthiest diet one should consume but she has no obligation to share her personal health issues while peddling her sometimes unhealthy style of cooking. Ameriecans need to look into their own health issues and not look for some excuse to blame a well known person for their own personal failings. We have to take control of our own lives not Paula!

    January 23, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. nofoldems

    Why are people shocked by the Paula Dean story? Everyone knows that food is bad for you. It the 'blame the tobacco industry' crap all over again... we know smoking was bad for us since the 70s, perhaps earlier. Let start taking responsibility for our own actions.

    January 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brad


      January 23, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Clarissa

      You make it seem so easy.....oh wait it is lol..... People are just ignorant.

      January 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. PumpNDump

    Lets face it she's a FAT, old, smokes a pack a day, has chicklets for teeth and everyone's surprised she's diabetic and in poor health?

    January 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Clarissa

      I don't think anyone is suprised, I think people for some reason feel like they've been lied to, but obviously no one was lied to, she is just a chef on a cooking show....WHO CARES...

      January 24, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. gus musallam

    put the donut down U FAT BI_CH

    January 28, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. gus musallam


    January 28, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
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