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Expo Pittsburgh Takes Out-of-the-Box Approach to Diabetes Education
By Vanessa Orr

Mr. Divabetic

Nearly 26 million people in the U.S. have diabetes and another 79 million have pre-diabetes or are at risk of developing the disease. Recent estimates predict that as many as one in three American adults will have diabetes by 2050. But while the statistics are staggering, there is some hope. “Knowledge is power,” explained Patricia Bononi, M.D., medical director of the Joslin Diabetes Center, Allegheny Health Network. “When people know about the resources available to them to manage their diabetes or have access to programs to help prevent diabetes, it empowers them.” This is the goal of the American Diabetes Association Expo Pittsburgh, now in its 13th year. This free event, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, November 9 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh, offers health screenings, cooking demonstrations and product and service exhibitors showcasing the latest innovations in diabetes management and prevention. Leading experts will talk about the latest issues in diabetes care, including how to deal with complications of the disease, how to raise a healthy family and ways to live a healthier lifestyle with the goal of managing or preventing the disease.

“Everything on the floor at Expo Pittsburgh is about healthier living,” explained Terri Seidman, associate director, American Diabetes Association. “Our speakers and workshops will cover a range of subjects pertaining to diabetes, while our Move and Groove floor will offer people the chance to stay active all day, whether they like Zumba, line dancing or even yoga.

“The cooking demonstrations are always a hit, and we’re also offering free health screenings to help people determine if they are already at risk of developing the disease,” she continued. Screenings include foot, eye, cholesterol, blood pressure, BMI and A1C (estimated average blood glucose) testing as well as a diabetes risk assessment.

The event is also focused on family fun, with an arts-and-crafts area set up for kids and even a skating rink on-site. Mr. Divabetic (Max Szadek; photo above) and his merry band of diabetes educators will present the stage show extravaganza Diabetic Management Skills Inspired by Fairy Tales, using popular fairy tales to help audience members understand more about the disease.

“It’s a very out-of-the-box way to teach people about diabetes, but we want this to be a fun, energetic day where people learn more about the disease in an enjoyable way,” said Seidman. “We want to take diabetes education out of a clinical setting with white coats and put it into a nontraditional setting that people find motivating.”

Dr. Bononi, an endocrinologist, has been involved in the Expo Pittsburgh for the past six years and will be supporting the Allegheny Health Network booth at the event and participating in Mr. Divabetic’s program. “Diabetes is a very important issue to my patients and to me, and this Expo gives them access to information about cutting-edge diabetes care going on in this area as well as nationally,” she explained. “As one of the largest expos in the country, this event has been very successful over the years in providing education and empowering people to learn more about the disease.”

While the day is full of fun, it is hoped that those who attend take home information that they can use. “We want everyone to learn something that they can apply to their lifestyles,” said Seidman. “If they learn even one thing—like how to read the back of food labels, or that moving doesn’t have to be laborious or in a gym, or even how to make a healthier Thanksgiving meal—they’ve gained awareness that they didn’t have before.”

Parking for Expo Pittsburgh is available at the Convention Center and there is also a bus stop nearby. For more information and to pre-register for the event, visit www.diabetes.org/expopittsburgh or call 1-888-DIABETES Ext. 4608. Walk-ins are also welcome and can register on-site.

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