Great White Lies

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June 27, 2013 | 1 Comment



    I can’t resist posting this 2012 interview with Paula Deen, TV’s queen of Southern cooking and celebrity spokesperson for Victoza. Paula took a lot of heat for hawking a $500-a-month diabetes drug while promoting ultra-fattening food on her show (just reading her recipes causes me to gain a few pounds). Lately she’s been in trouble over another bit of “Southern cultural heritage” that makes chicken fried steak look wholesome: an employee of her restaurant sued for racist mistreatment.

    This article is one of the few that actually touched on Victoza’s dangers. Poking fun at Paula herself was an easier (and safer) sound-bite for most media. Yet she’s an Oprah figure to lots of people … a successful woman who talks to all the leading experts, yet maintains her down-home, just-like-you-girlfriend credibility. And her fans (older, more Southern and probably less well off) have a much higher rate of diabetes than the folks who put her down, I bet.

    When it comes to our profit-driven healthcare industry, direct-to-consumer advertising is just the tip of the iceberg, I know – but it’s a wickedly effective one, with disastrous results. In recent weeks Paula’s been dumped by the Food Network, Wal-Mart and Smithfield Hams, but Novo Nordisk hung in there. Just yesterday they announced that they and Deen had “mutually agreed to suspend our patient education activities for now, while she takes time to focus her attention where it is needed.” They then saluted her efforts to raise diabetes awareness. I guess she’s been worth every penny.

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