"I was diagnosed three years ago, during a regular physical exam with my doctor, that I had Type 2 diabetes," said the celebrity chef, "and I'm here today to let the world know that it is not a death sentence."
She said she intentionally didn't go public at the time of her diagnosis because she had "nothing to give to my fellow friends out there." Now she's partnered as a paid spokeswoman for the pharmaceutical company that provides her diabetes medication, to offer an lifestyle-drug combo plan via the website Diabetes in a New Light.
"I wanted to bring something to the table when I came forward, and I've always been one to think that I bring hope, because I've had lots of obstacles in my life, y'all."
Rumors that Deen was diabetic first arose a year ago, then popped up again last week ahead of her announcement. As Deen's stock in trade is high-fat, high-calorie traditional Southern cooking, and Type 2 diabetes is linked to obesity, among other things, such a revelation couldn't help but come with a whiff of scandal.
In August, fellow celeb chef Anthony Bourdain told TV Guide, "The worst, most dangerous person to America is clearly Paula Deen. She revels in unholy connections with evil corporations and she's proud of the fact that her food is ... bad for you."
Pressed by Al Roker about whether she had changed her diet, she held firm. "I've always eaten in moderation. People see me on television ... cooking all these wonderfully fattening Southern dishes. ... That's only 30 days out of 365, and it's for entertainment."
She admitted separately, however, that there's "no more sweet tea for me." In addition to being overweight or obese, Type 2 diabetes risk factors include genetics, age and lack of exercise.
Later Tuesday on "The Talk," the hosts were generally supportive but Sara Gilbert did say she wished Deen wasn't out there promoting medication as an answer for Type 2 diabetes, but rather taking the opportunity to step up as a leader for living a healthy lifestyle.
Still, Sharon Osbourne pointed out, Deen "has a style of traditional American cooking. She doesn't force people to do her recipes. ... People aren't stupid. You either like her food or you don't. She doesn't force anyone, and God bless her."
-- Christie D'Zurilla
Photo: Paula Deen with Al Roker on the "Today" show Tuesday. Credit: Peter Kramer / NBC