Diabetes Expo: A Font of Information
On the second Saturday of April, more than 11,000 people streamed into the Festival Hall at Navy Pier in Chicago for free health screenings, cooking demonstrations, and answers to their questions about diabetes. It was Diabetes EXPO day, one of 17 offered each year by the American Diabetes Association in cities around the nation. And for many people, it's a great crash course in the ins and outs of managing their health.
EXPO began as a single event in Phoenix, Ariz., in 1995. "We had 12 EXPOs [by 2005]," says Browning Tinker, who coordinates the program for ADA, "and we reached 20 to 30,000 people. In 2007, we reached 82,000 people. Our goal for 2008 is 100,000."
There's no admission fee—EXPO is paid for by exhibitors, including pharmaceutical companies, pharmacy and grocery store chains, food companies, Medicare/Medicaid, and insurance companies. "This event is out there to help the public," says Tinker. "We're not asking for money, and we're not asking them to raise money—we're just there to help them."
While much of EXPO is designed for people with type 2 diabetes, especially the newly diagnosed, there's also information for people with type 1, caretakers, others affected in some way by diabetes, and anyone who just wants to learn how to lead a healthier lifestyle. Special demonstrations focus on important subjects such as carb counting, healthy cooking tips, and exercise. For kids and parents, there's a youth area, and at the "Ask the Expert" section, certified diabetes educators, podiatrists, endocrinologists, and other specialists are available to answer health questions.
"One woman [took advantage of] sleep apnea testing," Tinker recalls. "She went to the doctor after that, found her arteries were clogged, and wrote [us] saying, 'You saved my life.'"
For more information, visit www.diabetes.org/expo