The first ever diabetes expo in Fort Smith was embraced by the community, as the PWK foyer was packed with both diabetics and non-diabetics on the evening of May 30.
Public Health Nurse Melanie Kearley said the turnout was “fabulous.”
The event featured two keynote speakers. Dr. Ellen Toth of the University of Alberta spent the first portion of the evening discussing the effects of diabetes and how lifestyle choices, including healthy eating and exercise, can help people cope with the disease. She was followed by Karie Quinn, a registered dietician from Grande Prairie, who focused on healthy eating, essentially encouraging diabetics to make the most use of their caloric intake each day.
For example Quinn said, one person may eat 2,000 calories in a day from a hamburger, fries and deep-fried chicken wings. In effect, the body does not get many nutrients from those calories. On the other hand, a person who eats 2,000 calories of healthy foods like oatmeal, fruits and vegetables and a chicken dinner will get much more nutrients from the food.
Kearley said she was also impressed by the community support the expo received. A range of organizations, including both Northern and Kaeser’s grocery stores, the dental therapist, the Fort Smith Rec Center and public health had booths at the event, promoting their own roles in helping residents lead a healthy, active lifestyle.
While the expo was mainly geared to the roughly 200 people in Fort Smith who have type 2 diabetes, it also focused on preventing the disease.Kearley explained that many people at high-risk of contacting diabetes can avoid the disease by changing their lifestyle.
“The expo really brought an increased awareness of diabetes to the community,” Kearley said.