The Barry County Health Department has formed a coalition to combat the high rate of chronic diseases in southwest Missouri.
"Our mission is to reduce chronic disease and the impact on our quality of life," said Kathleen King, Barry County Health Department director of public health programs. "We want to get information out to help citizens learn how to prevent chronic diseases and control them if they have them."
The Barry County Health Department has estimated that over 5,500 deaths occurred from chronic diseases between 1993 and 2003.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the mortality rate from heart disease, stroke and cancer in Missouri was above the national average in 2001.
With these statistics, Missouri legislatures have designated funds to help combat chronic diseases in the state, said Leesa Ginthur, RN at Barry County Health Department.
"Over 55 percent of the state is overweight," said Ginthur. "In 2002, 23 percent of people over 18 were overweight. That's a high number."
High blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes are all tied to obesity, said Ginthur.
"From 1993 to 2002, there was a 58 percent increase in obesity in children 2 to 5 years of age," said Ginthur. "That's in less than 10 years, just in Missouri and only the kids we know about through the WIC program."
To promote the coalition effort, the Barry County Health Department will join members of the Missouri Department of Heath and Senior Services, Cox-Monett Hospital and the Monett YMCA to host the first annual Barry County Health Fair on Feb. 25, 2006.
"We want to raise awareness of the problems and how easy they are to control and the reasons we need to control them," said Ginthur. "People can come out and learn about the things that we provide at the health department."
The fair will cover topics such as proper nutrition, exercise and smoking cessation.
"We will provide information about all chronic issues, and the information will be basic and simple," said Ginthur. "It's an easy way to learn about the body, nutrition facts, what causes obesity and how to fix it."
The Barry County Health Fair will be held at the Monett YMCA from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2006. There are no admission charges, and the event is open to the public.
The Barry County Coalition has also developed a smoke-free dining guide and is planning a children's health fair for later next year.
For more information on the Barry County Health Fair or Chronic Disease Coalition, call 847-2114.