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How reliable are health fairs?

Gary Scheiner
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
I can tell you from professional experience that some information gathered at health fairs is very reliable, but some is biased and potentially incorrect. The key is to look at the source of the information. If the organization providing it is an established healthcare entity such as a hospital, clinic, or licensed healthcare provider, it is most likely going to be trustworthy. If it is a pharmaceutical company, device manufacturer or non-licensed "expert", there is likely to be bias toward selling you a product. Any information you receive from these types of entities should be considered opinion unless there is accompanying research (published in a reputable professional journal) to back up any claims.

Health fairs can be an excellent way to educate the public about preventative actions they can take to improve health or detect medical conditions early. Hospitals or other organizations may sponsor a health fair in the community that offers free screenings for a variety of disorders from high blood pressure and diabetes to osteoporosis. Most health fairs will also provide educational brochures for products and services.

Keep in mind that while a health fair can be a great place to get basic information or have some free health screenings, some of the providers or participants in the fair may be promoting their own product or service and they do not have access to your medical history.

It is important to remember that a health fair does not replace a full assessment by a medical professional. Take the results of your health screenings to your physician so that he or she can determine if any of your results warrant further investigation or treatment.

Health fairs are an economical method to get health information out to the public. More people can be reached at once. Fewer professionals are required to staff the fair. Messages going out are more consistent and the professionals sending out the messages are right there to answer questions. Its like this website; mass media but individualized all at the same time, and the “experts” are guaranteed to be just that.

As with everything there is a caution. Be aware of who is putting the fair on. If it is put on by people who expect to profit substantially from your purchases and promote them whether in your best interest or not, be very circumspect. This tactic is acceptable for “home and garden” type fairs, for example, where you know people are trying to sell you items and services that you may want. You might end up wasting your money on a garden gnome you didn't need but when it comes to your health, it may not be just your money you are wasting. It is possible to cause yourself harm unknowingly. 

So enjoy the health fairs but be a wise consumer.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.