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About 50 exhibitors lined up Wednesday inside Pritchard Community Center for the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce Health and Human Services Expo.
The 11th annual health expo was the first for the combined chambers. Chamber President-CEO Brad Richardson said he believes the expo sells out every year.
“There’s a history here,” he said.
About 325 attendees signed up for Wednesday’s monthly luncheon and several exhibitors set up displays for various health needs. Hardin Memorial Health, Relay for Life, Lincoln Trail Behavioral Health System and the American Red Cross were among groups with booths.
Asked why the issue of health is important to a chamber of commerce, Richardson said businesses should take interest in the health of its employees.
“(Health) is a growing importance in the business area in addition to the general population,” he said.
As a state, Kentucky has a history of obesity, Richardson said. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kentucky’s obesity rate was 31.3 percent in 2010, one of the highest in the country.
A growing area of interest in health education is prevention, and several exhibitors at Wednesday’s expo fit within that specialty area, Richardson said.
The Lincoln Trail District Health Department touted its educational services, such as nutrition, family planning and smoking cessation, said Donny Gill, a health educator with the department.
Stefanie Goff, director of community planning and compliance, said the health department focuses on risk reduction behavior and health prevention for the general population as opposed to just individuals.
“Our goal is to make the population healthy,” she said.
Several tables away, E-town Swim and Fitness displayed what 5 pounds of fat looks like compared to 5 pounds of muscle. The gym also offered body fat analysis upon request and presented information about its fitness classes and membership opportunities.
Membership coordinator Penelope Watkins said studies have shown regular exercise lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels and reduces stress.
In addition to improving internal health, exercise also has been shown to improve mental health, Watkins said.
Dana Bland, business development coordinator with Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Healthcare, said the best way to stay healthy and out of a doctor’s office is to follow the advice of primary care doctors.
“Usually, it’s lose weight, stop smoking, eat right and exercise,” she said.
Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or firstname.lastname@example.org.