Excerpted from The Griot

This focus on Paula Deen and the health risks of “old school”-style Southern cooking is not new. Deen is making news for revealing that she has had Type 2 diabetes for three years, while continuing to cook in the fat-laden style that has made her famous. As part of her revelation, the celebrity chef announced an endorsement deal with the Novo Nordisk company, which creates diabetes treatments. Yet Deen has stated that she will not alter the way she cooks, despite the connection between her cooking and her development of diabetes.

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Many chefs who specialize in Southern cuisine have already altered their cooking styles to include low-fat ingredients and unusual substitutions — like applesauce for fats and butter — without losing that down home taste.

After collapsing onstage 17 years ago and subsequently being diagnosed with diabetes, Patti LaBelle traded in her infamous deep fryer for sautéing, egg whites and turkey products. Her two most recent cookbooks feature healthy recipes, and her first, not-so-healthy cookbook isn’t even featured on her website.

And, then there’s Paula Deen.

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Popular TV chef Paula Deen announced today that she has had type 2 diabetes for nearly three years and plans to partner with Nodo Nordisk as their medication’s spokeswoman.

“It’s about heredity. It’s about age, lifestyle, race. I’m the only one in my family who has it,” said Deen. “My grandmother cooked and ate like I ate, and she didn’t have it.”

It has been found that blacks are affected by diabetes at a rate twice that of whites, and die from it twice as often. Type 2 diabetes is often diagnosed along with obesity. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, black children were 30 percent more likely to be overweight than non-Hispanic white children, causing increased risk for the disease.

Many black celebrities have gone public about their diabetes, connecting the disease to diet and unhealthy eating in the black community.

Here’s a short list:

  1. Aretha Franklin,
  2. B.B. King,
  3. Damon Dash,
  4. Della Reese,
  5. Dominique Wilkins,
  6. Halle Berry,
  7. Jay Anthony Brown,
  8. Marion Barry,
  9. Phife Dawg,
  10. Winnie Mandela,
  11. Randy Jackson

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