Southern celebrity chef Paula Deen appeared on the Today Show with Al Roker this morning to address rumors that she has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Deen confirmed, "I was diagnosed three years ago during a regular physical exam with my doctor, that I had type 2 diabetes. I am here today to let the world know that it is not a death sentence. I am working with a very reputable pharmaceutical company. I'm working on a new program called 'Diabetes in a New Light.' You can go to our website. I'm going to be there for you and help you manage every day of your life with this, because it can be done."
The chef, who has come under fire in recent years for the unhealthy nature of many of her recipes, also announced that she is working as a paid spokesperson for the drug company Novo Nordisk, which manufactures Victoza - an injectable, non-insulin drug used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
Asked by Roker why she took such a long time to come forward with news of her diagnosis, Deen responded that after she informed her immediate family, she wanted to keep the information private for a while because she, "Had nothing to give to my fellow friends out there."
She continued, "People are not going to quit eating...I wanted to bring something to the table."
While Deen admitted that diet is a factor in the development of the disease, saying it's "part of the puzzle," she also cited genetics, lifestyle, stress and age as factors. Her goal with the new website, she says is, "To make you still feel like you're having a full life, without feeling like you're being punished or not being able to taste the wonderful flavors that you like."
Deen deflected criticism of her fat and sugar-centric cooking, saying that on her show, she preaches a message of moderation and has not had to change the way she eats because she follows that directive herself.
Of the show's signature cuisine she says, "It's entertainment...I'm your cook, not your doctor," and notes on her website that moving forward, many of her recipes will include a "lighter touch."
About 26 million people in the United States have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC estimates another 79 million Americans over age 20 have pre-diabetes, or elevated glucose levels.
There are two major forms of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 2 is the most common. Type 2 is often called adult-onset diabetes because it develops over time due to low activity levels and a poor diet that causes excess body weight.
Diabetes can lead to kidney failure, blindness, lower limb amputations, heart disease and stroke. It is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC.
Read more on CNN Health: Paula Deen says diabetes is not 'a death sentence'