Health: Festival of Health brings Maureen Reagan, Jack LaLanne to center stage

While all Southern Californians experienced an otherworldly kind of heat two weekends ago, some were struck with a fever – for all things health related – at the Los Angles Times Festival of Health.

Held at the University Park campus Sept.16 and 17, the festival attracted 30,000 of L.A.’s most health-conscious. Fitness experts, Eastern medicine practitioners and weekend sports warriors mingled with health-care and insurance providers, physicians and other health specialists. Crowds flocked to the various stages for demonstrations, impromptu beginners’ classes and expert advice.

Main stage attractions included Maureen Reagan, who spoke about Alzheimer’s advocacy, interviews with 10 Olympians, and a session with 86-year-old fitness guru Jack LaLanne who is credited with developing early models of exercise equipment.

Co-sponsoring the event for the second year, The Doctors of USC had the largest interactive area, located at the center of the festival next to Tommy Trojan. The Doctors of USC exhibit offered visitors the use of a Cyber Café, which connected users to trusted health sites, as well as interactive computer displays, informational kiosks, and free magazine subscriptions. Also popular were the exhibit’s cholesterol and glucose screenings, with about 400 being performed, and skin cancer screenings that had people lined up from the 1 p.m. opening to the festival’s closing.

The USC Surgical Skills Center’s Laparoscopic Surgery Test Station invited guests to try a surgical simulator used to train medical students and surgeons. The USC Center for Athletic Medicine featured a ski simulator, which taught expert and beginning skiers and snowboarders proper technique and offered injury-prevention tips.

Adjacent to the exhibit was The Doctors of USC stage, which hosted talk show-style discussions such as “Colon Cancer Prevention and Treatment in the New Millennium” with Marvin Corman and Heinz-Josef Lenz and “New Treatments for Macular Degeneration” with Lawrence Chong. Other topics explored teen health, sports-related back injuries, diabetes, skin cancer and melanoma, live-donor transplants, childhood cancer, women’s health and stroke. Following the interviews, the audience was engaged in a question and answer session taped by USC’s student-run Trojan Vision.

Festival-goers also enjoyed free “Brown Bag” prescription screenings, as well as cholesterol and glucose screenings, sponsored by the USC School of Pharmacy.

The USC School of Dentistry’s faculty and dental students provided oral health screenings for 130 fair attendees, and dental hygiene students offered instruction in brushing and flossing techniques for kids and adults. In addition, they passed out oral-health literature and distributed tooth brushes and tooth paste. More than two dozen students, faculty and staff from the school participated.