Learning benefits of healthy living

Published: Saturday, Aug. 17 2013 6:25 p.m. MDT

A child feels a polyp in a giant colon at the Be Well Utah Health Fair at the University of Utah's Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Getting kids or adults to eat healthy isn’t always easy, but teaching children and grown-ups the value of eating fruits and veggies instead of candy and fast food can be the difference between a lifetime of good health or dietary struggle.

Approximately 4,500 people of all ages strolled the concourses of Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday as part of the Be Well Utah Health Fair. The free annual event, the culmination of family health week, offered information from health professionals, along with interactive demonstrations, health screenings and other activities aimed at promoting healthier living.

Aly Larsen has already begun instilling those lessons into her young kids. The Salt Lake City wife and mother of three took her family to the booth set up to show kids how to make snacks that offer better nutritional value.

“My kids love fruit. They love colors (of food),” she explained. “They are learning how to have a healthy snack.”

Larsen said teaching kids the importance of good nutrition can help them develop good habits early on that they can hopefully maintain throughout their lives.

“We try to teach our kids to exercise and eat well,” she said. “Sometimes we slack, but our house has mostly fruit (for them to snack on).”

The fair included nearly 40 booths and displays with information on diabetes, colon health, mental health, cholesterol, bone density, blood pressure, sleep apnea, carotid artery and medication safety, as a well as cooking demonstrations, recipes and tips. Among the more popular exhibits was an inflatable display that showed various conditions that could affect the colon.

According to organizers, the primary goal of the event was to promote wellness in the local community.

The focus of the health fair was healthy eating and exercise, said Kathy Wilets, spokeswoman for event co-sponsor University of Utah Healthcare. While time has become an issue for many individuals and families who turn to fast food or microwaveable meals for convenience, it doesn’t have to mean eating poorly, she said.

“You can eat healthy at fast-food places now. You just have to know how,” Wilets explained. “A lot of them are offering salads, wraps and lower calorie options.”

She said being educated is the key to making better choices. Taking time on the weekends to make a crock pot of healthy soup that can be eaten throughout the week is the type of dietary planning that can have long-term positive benefits, Wilets said.

Active seniors Susan and Larry Witkowski of North Salt Lake took advantage of various screenings offered at the fair to monitor their overall health.

“We like all these free tests,” Susan Witkowski said. “Being a senior citizen, it’s good to keep checking up on (your health).”

The couple describes themselves as “very health conscious” and believes that events like the health fair can be quite useful for people like themselves who want to maintain good health.

“I feel like I get a lot out of this,” she said. “I really like it.”

E-mail: jlee@deseretnews.com

Twitter: JasenLee1

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