By STEVEN NALLEY
The Starkville Sportsplex will host OCH Regional Medical Center’s second annual Diabetes Health and Awareness Fair from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday.
Nicky Yeatman, clinical nutrition manager at OCH, said the first diabetes fair in 2011 was held at OCH’s educational room, attracting more than 150 members of the community. She said moving the event to the Sportsplex enabled OCH to increase the number of vendors to 50, more than double the number of vendors from last year.
“(The OCH education room) is a great facility; it’s just not the type of facility we need,” Yeatman said. “It didn’t take long to fill the room. The space was limited last year ... That’s why we moved it to the Starkville Sportsplex this year. It’s really opened the doors for people to come out and get the education they need and the services they need.
Starkville Parks and Recreation Director Matthew Rye said he was glad to offer the Sportsplex for the diabetes fair.
“It’s a testament to the great facility we have ... that the city can offer such events (as) this,” Rye said. “It was kind of a no-brainer to partner with OCH. It’s a great fair. They do a great job of providing information to people who need it.”
The fair’s keynote speaker is Charles Wiggins, an A1C Champion from Illinois. Hemoglobin A1C is used to measure a person’s average blood glucose control over the past 2-3 months, and A1C Champions are motivational speakers who share their stories of dealing with diabetes, presented by the French multinational pharmaceutical company, Sanofi.
A press release from Sanofi says Wiggins will present a free, one-hour educational program at the fair.
“When Charles was first diagnosed, he was angry and did not want to believe that he had diabetes,” the press release says. “Since then, however, he has been determined to make diabetes a positive part of his life. He believes it is possible to lead a healthier, productive life with diabetes and that people need to learn as much as they can. Charles would like for people to take charge of their diabetes and not be afraid to live life to the fullest.”
Yeatman said OCH will also distribute free blood glucose meters while supplies last.
“A lot of the vendors are also bringing those,” Yeatman said. “Last year, just about everyone who wanted one or needed one was able to obtain one.”
Several screenings will also be available, Yeatman said, including blood pressure screenings, vision screenings, foot screenings and blood glucose screenings. These screenings can help visitors who know they are at risk for diabetes determine whether they have it, she said.
“Increased thirst, increased urination, blurry vision, being more tired than usual (and) just feeling sort of lethargic are probably the biggest, most common symptoms,” Yeatman said. “We can’t diagnose per se; this will just let them know if it’s something they need to follow up with their primary physician about.”
Yeatman said vendors will sell several products to help people with diabetes, including artificial sweeteners, lotions for diabetic foot care and personal emergency response systems, which allow people to call for emergency assistance when they cannot reach a phone. The fair also features information sessions on diabetes self-management, facts and myths about insulin, hypoglycemia, sick day management, exercise, drug assistance programs and more, she said.
Finally, Yeatman said the fair will feature cooking demonstrations for diabetes-friendly dishes. She said these include oven-steamed diced tilapia, whole wheat couscous with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach salad, garlic roasted broccoli and cauliflower and strawberries with balsamic vinegar.
“I have two (Mississippi State University) student interns who will be doing that cooking demonstration,” Yeatman said. “We try to control the amount of carbohydrates (in) the meals, because carbohydrates raise blood sugar. The other thing is to increase the fiber intake, which helps control blood sugar as well. (Low-fat and low-sodium dishes are) very heart-healthy, which is a big concern for people with diabetes.”