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Paula Deen to donate portion of diabetes endorsements to charity

Paula Deen: Diabetes backlash
Paula Deen poses for a portrait in New York in this Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012 photo. Deen recently announced that she has Type 2 diabetes. AP Photo/Carlo Allegri

(CBS/AP) Paula Deen will donate a portion of her Novo Nordisk endorsement money to the American Diabetes Association, the celebrity chef said Wednesday.

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The Food Network star, known as the "queen of Southern cooking," had announced Tuesday that she had Type 2 diabetes for the past three years, and was teaming up with Novo Nordisk to endorse the company's diabetes drug Victoza. Victoza is a once daily injectable drug used with diet and exercise to control blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

Since Deen announced her health condition, critics have slammed the 64-year-old chef for promoting high-fat, high-sugar recipes while she's known she was sick.

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In a segment of ABC's food chat show "The Chew" that aired Wednesday, Deen said she and her two grown sons, Bobby and Jamie, are working with the drug company's Diabetes in a New Light campaign "because we, like everybody else, have to work." But, she added, the three are "in a position" to "set aside a certain percentage (of the Novo Nordisk money) and we're donating that back to the ADA."

Deen didn't specify how much money she planned to give to the ADA. Neither Deen nor Novo Nordisk will disclose how much her endorsement deal is worth. Deen's spokeswoman, Elana Weiss, reached by phone late Wednesday by the Associated Press, could not immediately say how much Deen would donate.

The American Diabetes Association said Wednesday said it was unaware of Deen's offer, according to ADA spokeswoman Lauren Gleason. A HealthPop request for comment from the ADA was not returned at press time.

Gleason said that the Deen family will participate in select diabetes health expos the ADA hosts around the country. They are not taking money for that effort, Gleason said.

The ADA supports Deen's diabetes disclosure, said another spokeswoman, Geralyn Spollett, in a statement.

"People may benefit from seeing how others successfully manage Type 2 diabetes," Spollett said. "Paula Deen, through her work with Diabetes in a New Light, is likely to inspire many people living with Type 2 diabetes to take a more positive approach to their diabetes care."

Spollett added: "We commend her for speaking out on behalf of people with Type 2 diabetes and welcome her to the association's Stop Diabetes movement."

Deen's sons are both paid Novo Nordisk endorsers as well. Bobby Deen is the new host of his own Food Network show, "Not My Mama's Cooking," which promotes recipes for a healthier lifestyle.

Bobby Deen told "The Chew" his family's participation in the Novo Nordisk campaign is "a good thing, a totally positive thing."

Paula Deen is contributing healthy recipes to the Diabetes in a New Light site, but said that on her shows, she plans no major changes to the high-calorie, high-fat gooey and fried comfort food that made her a star.

"I've always said, `Practice moderation, y'all.' I'll probably say that a little louder now," she told The Associated Press after revealing her diagnosis Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show.

Deen refusing to change the way she cooks has sparked criticism from health experts and fans alike.

"A more responsible approach would have been that once she was diagnosed with diabetes to really emphasize to her viewers the importance of eating a healthy diet," said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

"It would be like someone who goes on TV and brags about how wonderful it is to smoke two packs of cigarettes a day and then when he or she gets lung cancer becomes a paid spokesperson for nicotine patches," Judd Dvorak, an avid viewer of Deen's shows from Yuba, Wis. said. "I feel it is in very poor taste and if she chose to become an unpaid spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association, that would be a better way for her to make a difference and help fight this horrible disease."


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