Diabetes Awareness Fair warns, informs UI students

Food, informational booths and insulin tests lined the lobby of Campus Recreation Center-East (CRCE) for the first annual Diabetes Awareness Fair on Thursday.

Abbott Diabetes Care offered free insulin testing for attendees of the event. While students did not show unhealthy levels of insulin, Abbott Representative John Scharff said the younger generation is generally at risk for diabetes.

“Your generation has grown up with video games instead of going outside for physical activity,” Scharff said.

McKinley’s health education department collaborated with University cultural houses to put the event together at the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) on Wednesday and CRCE on Thursday. Medical professionals created a panel to answer health-related questions. Sponsoring organizations, including Christie Clinic and the UI Wellness Center, hosted booths that provided information and treats supporting diabetes-preventative practices.

Exercise, as well as healthy eating habits, may be diminishing among the younger population. According to the Center for Disease Control, diabetes among adults 20 years and older rose from 20.6 million cases to 23.5 million cases from 2005 to 2007.

Specifically, Type 2 diabetes­­­ has increased among college-age students in the United States, said Hope Mayne, graduate assistant for McKinley’s health education department. This type of diabetes is acquired over time as a result of unhealthy habits.

“It’s affecting a younger age group, so we decided to promote awareness about managing your overall health,” Mayne said.

The rising rate served as a catalyst for the health education department to create an awareness event. Diabetes significantly affects many ethnicities, especially Asian-Americans and African-Americans, which is how the cultural houses got involved. Mayne said the houses were happy to help, and each house handled much of the logistics of the event.

Posters at the fair presented diabetes statistics specific to ethnicity groups along with information about access to health care for minorities.

“Once you talk about preventing diabetes, you have to talk about social justice,” Mayne said.

Apart from the cultural houses, the health education department came together with Campus Recreation in order to tie in fitness with diabetes awareness. Carol Fonseca, graduate assistant for McKinley, said the partnership allowed the event to be hosted at both the ARC and CRCE at no cost. She added that indirect costs of time and labor affected all who planned the event.

Mayne said the health education department will make the fair an annual event. Next year, Mayne said she hopes to host a fair surrounding another health topic still to be determined. In the meantime, Mayne said the department’s effort is for students to talk about what they saw.

“Our main goal is to provide an educational experience for students to learn information and tell their families and friends what they learned,” she said.