Visit to State Fair could make you healthier
August 10, 2010
by Daniel F. Evans Jr.
An estimated 900,000 individuals from across the state will be in town for the Indiana State Fair -- one of the best events of its kind in the country, thanks to Indiana State Fair Commission Executive Director Cindy Hoye and her staff. It's an opportunity to have fun with family and friends, and to enjoy the rides, the sights and, of course, the food. Corn dogs, elephant ears and deep-fried candy bars are fun at the once-a-year fair. Unfortunately, far too many Hoosiers enjoy such fare on a regular basis.
A report released in June by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows 28 percent of Indiana's adults are obese. That means 1 in 4 -- more than 1.7 million -- Hoosiers are at risk for developing chronic diseases like diabetes, the seventh-leading cause of death in Indiana. These at-risk individuals could fill 28 63,000-seat Lucas Oil Stadiums.
So closely related are obesity and diabetes that a new term -- "diabesity" -- has been coined to refer to them as one. Diabesity is, however, largely preventable, and combating it is a primary focus of Clarian Health's community health efforts this year.
Physical activity is an important weapon in the battle against diabesity, so Clarian is making it easier for many Hoosiers to become more physically active by building playgrounds and making improvements to more than a dozen parks throughout the state. We also are bringing nutritious foods to high-poverty communities by supporting farmers' markets and community gardens in these underserved areas.
Many people do not realize they have diabetes until they develop a disabling or life-threatening complication such as kidney failure, blindness, heart disease or stroke. Because we are committed to improving the health of our community, Clarian is now offering more free community health screenings to both diagnose diabetes, so it can be treated, and to identify pre-diabetes, which may enable motivated individuals to avoid developing type 2 diabetes.
Kristy Holzhausen is one such motivated individual. Kristy took advantage of one of our free screenings last March. She learned she was at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, from which her father suffers. Kristy immediately made an appointment with her physician, who prescribed a lifestyle of regular exercise and a healthy diet. Within two months, she lost weight and improved her blood-sugar levels. She sent us a letter saying, "If it wasn't for that test, nothing would have changed."
Thousands of Hoosiers face health risks like Kristy, and many of them will attend the fair. That's why Clarian will be there, too, for each day of the fair. We'll offer free diabetes risk assessments and screenings, and encourage Hoosiers to live healthier lives by taking advantage of the fair's Farmers Market Café. Our Healthy Indiana Plan outreach team also will be on site, helping to connect eligible Hoosiers with this important low-cost health insurance resource.
Like Kristy, each of us also must take personal responsibility for protecting our health by cultivating a healthy lifestyle. Obese Hoosiers at risk for developing type 2 diabetes can significantly decrease their risk by losing just 15 to 25 pounds, an attainable goal with increased physical activity and a healthy diet.
Together, we can change the health status of our state. Let's do it.
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