Health & Medicine

Knowing diabetes may help prevent disease that already affects 10% of Kentuckians

Celebrity chef Paula Deen poses for a portrait Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012 in New York. Dean recently announced that she has diabetes.  (AP Photo/Carlo Allegri)
Celebrity chef Paula Deen poses for a portrait Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012 in New York. Dean recently announced that she has diabetes. (AP Photo/Carlo Allegri) ASSOCIATED PRESS

The recent announcement by celebrity chef and queen of Southern cuisine Paula Deen, below, that she has Type 2 diabetes has brought renewed attention to the disease. Here is some information to help guide you through the maze of diabetes information.

Paula Deen has Type 2 diabetes. What's the difference between that and Type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetics represent about 10 percent to 15 percent of all diabetics in the United States. The pancreas, the organ that secretes insulin, is destroyed by autoantibodies. Those with Type 1 diabetes need insulin injected or by insulin pump.

Type 2 diabetics are often overweight and usually are diagnosed later in life. Their insulin problem is called "insulin resistance" and is also associated with heart problems.

Take another look at Deen's lasagna sandwich

You may see this as an anti-diabetes public-service message (YouTube video): Paula Deen eats a lasagna sandwich

Not the kind of peak we can take pride in having reached

After you watch Paula try to take a big chaw out of the lasagna sandwich, consider this musing on obesity in the United States: In a recent NPR interview about the nation's obesity epidemic appearing to have peaked and hit a plateau, Daniel Ludwig, professor in the Department of Nutrition, Harvard University School of Public Health, said this: "We may have peaked, but we've peaked at levels that have never before occurred for humans."

Paula Deen is not the only celebrity with diabetes.

Here are some others:

Type 1 diabetics

Halle Berry, actress

Mary Tyler Moore, actress

Tony Bennett, singer

Crystal Bowersox, singer, American Idol contestant

Type 2 diabetics

Patti LaBelle, singer

Ernest Hemingway, writer

Howard Hughes, aviator, film producer/director, tycoon

Drew Carey, comedian

Thomas Edison, inventor

Sherri Shepherd, host of The View

Diabetes in the movies

Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, has insulin-dependent diabetes in The Godfather: Part III.

In Steel Magnolias, Julia Roberts' character has a seizure brought on by her diabetes.

The cold hard facts about diabetes

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a vast store of information about diabetes, from explanations about what prediabetes is to making healthy food choices. You also can find a diabetes management guide.

Assess your risk

Take an online test offered by the American Diabetes Organization to assess your risk at

Get tested, treated

The Barnstable Brown Kentucky Diabetes and Obesity Center at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine treats diabetic patients from around Kentucky,

Says Philip Kern, director of the center: "For every person who knows they have diabetes, there's probably one person who has diabetes and doesn't know it. ... For a long time, there are no symptoms or minimum symptoms,"

Physicians and diabetes educators at the center give patients what Kern calls a "black belt in diabetes" through instruction on topics such as eating properly and checking their feet and vision.

While it's important to control weight, Kern noted that it's not the only factor involved in the onset of Type 2 diabetes: "It's very important to understand that it's not that simple. Person A can be 350 pounds and not have diabetes. Person B can be just 15 or 20 pounds overweight and have diabetes."

Counties inside the 'belt'

In 2000, 6.5 percent of Kentuckians had been diagnosed with diabetes compared to a rate of 6.1 percent nationwide. As of 2010, 10 percent, or 370,000, of Kentuckians are estimated to have diabetes compared to 8.7 percent of adults nationwide. Sixty-eight of Kentucky's 120 counties fall within the "diabetes belt" with county level rates at 11 percent to 12.6 percent. Forty-eight counties just missed the cutoff for the diabetes-belt designation with calculated rates of 10. 9 percent to 10 percent, and the remaining four counties had rates of 9.9 percent to 9.3 percent.

Source: Kentucky Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, November 2011

Be your own advocate

"I often feel that the public discriminates against Type 2 diabetes because there's an attitude of you're fat, you're lazy, you brought it on yourself."

Philip Kern, director of The Barnstable Brown Kentucky Diabetes and Obesity Center at the UK College of Medicine