Merck hosts celebrity chef's show on menus that manage diabetes

Celebrity chef Art Smith is hosting Taking Diabetes to Heart, an educational program to help people living with type 2 diabetes better manage the disease.

Moreover, Merck, one of the world's largest and well known pharmaceutical industries, is sponsoring the chef's efforts on the new show. The most cynical of critics often accuse big pharmaceutics companies of having less interest in cures and more interest in selling medications.

Taking Diabetes to Heart is an educational program to help people living with type 2 diabetes better manage the disease. Smith, who lives with type 2 diabetes, will be traveling the country "cooking up" some of his favorite delicious diabetes-friendly recipes, sharing tips for diabetes management,. Smith will also encourage people living with type 2 diabetes to work with their health care provider to develop a personalized diabetes-management plan with goals that are right for them.

Smith will also be challenging local restaurants and food trucks in select cities to make at least one of their menu items diabetes-friendly.

Smith, the former personal chef to celebrities and past contestant on the hit shows "Top Chef Masters" and "Iron Chef America," was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2008, when he weighed more than 325 pounds. After his diagnosis, Smith worked with his health care provider to develop a personalized diabetes-management plan and learned simple ways to make some of his favorite dishes more diabetes-friendly. By sticking to this plan, Smith lost more than 100 pounds and now has his diabetes under control.

"As a chef living with type 2 diabetes, I know that managing the way you eat is critical and can be difficult, but it doesn't have to be," Smith explains. "That's why I'm working with Merck on Taking Diabetes to Heart to share my diabetes-friendly recipes that the whole family can enjoy and to work with restaurants and food trucks to make some of their menu items more diabetes-friendly."

By challenging restaurants and food trucks in select cities to feature diabetes-friendly dishes, Smith is also helping to show people with diabetes that they can still enjoy eating delicious meals, even while they are dining out with friends and family.

"Healthy eating is important for people with type 2 diabetes, but it's just one part of a comprehensive diabetes-management plan," says Robin Goland, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at Columbia University and Co-Director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. "People with type 2 diabetes should speak to their doctor about a treatment plan—including diet, exercise and, if necessary, medication—that will help them maintain good control of their blood sugar and better manage the disease."

Most people living with diabetes are aware of the importance of managing high blood sugar—one of the defining characteristics of diabetes—which can lead to serious long-term health problems. However, for individuals on certain diabetes medications, low blood sugar can be caused by skipping meals or excessive exercise, which can make you feel shaky, dizzy, sweaty, hungry, and, sometimes, faint.

Nearly 26 million people in the United States have diabetes, and 90% to 95% of these people have type 2 diabetes. One of three American men and nearly 2 of 5 American women born in 2000 will develop diabetes sometime during their lifetime.

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