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The Truth Behind Why High Calorie Chef Paula Deen Is Pushing Diabetes Drug

Why ask the most famous unhealthy cook in America to promote a diabetes drug before anyone knew she suffered from diabetes?

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"The ADA representative is ignoring the relationship between overweight and type 2 diabetes," Nestle said. "This is not just an association, it is causal."

Trapp of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine told AlterNet that people who have a genetic disposition to diabetes "can absolutely eat their way to diabetes."

She added, "And we know that because when we see people change their diets, they're often able to reverse diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is really a disease of lifestyle."

Morley, the spokesperson for Novo Nordisk, also defended her choice of Deen to revamp "diabetes-friendly" versions of her recipes by saying these were being done in consultation with the Diabetes Care and Education (DCE) group, a part of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Asked repeatedly if Novo Nordisk doesn't profit from keeping people on their medication or getting new people to take it, and whether that was the real reason the company tapped Deen, Morley declined to answer the question and instead repeated gushing praise for Deen as "beloved by millions" and someone who could help others still enjoy life with healthful but tasty food.

"Because that's one of the things that people are told, you know, when they're first diagnosed: 'You can't do this, you can't do this, you can't have it.'"

She added, "Does everybody like this? Absolutely not. But what this has done is strike a chord in this country about the debate about diabetes. And she is someone that we're proud to partner with and we're proud that there's honesty in this debate."

Regarding the choice of Deen and Novo Nordisk's "diabetes-friendly" recipes, Trapp said we shouldn't be looking at the drug companies to give us information about what to eat.

"Certainly, that's not in their best interest and not what their stockholders would want them to do," she said.

Trapp also pointed out that Novo Nordisk's Victoza, aside from being cost-prohibitive to many Americans at about $500 a month, also comes with a black box warning, an FDA label indicating the drug carries a significant risk of serious or even lethal effects. In the case of Victoza, she noted, the FDA warning was applied because it poses significant risk for thyroid cancer.

After the interview with Morley, AlterNet reviewed the Web site of the Diabetes Care and Education group, which Morley said was helping Novo Nordisk and Paula Deen create those "diabetes-friendly" recipes.

Under the group's list of corporate sponsors sits Novo Nordisk, in addition to multiple other Big Pharma companies as well as corporations and groups that no one would associate with good nutrition, including Kraft Foods, General Mills and the Corn Refiners Association. 

Finally, there's another familiar name on this group's list of corporate sponsors: The American Diabetes Association.

Brad Jacobson is a Brooklyn-based freelance journalist and contributing reporter for AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @bradpjacobson.