HAGERSTOWN — Holding a vial bigger than her hand, filled with what appeared to be sugar, Nakita Tobias, 7, could not believe her eyes Sunday.
“Holy moly!” she exclaimed. “I’m not drinking soda ever again.”
Inside the vial was the amount of sugar found in a can of regular soda.
Together with her family, Nakita perused the table Sunday at the first community health fair at Hagerstown Seventh-Day Adventist Church that was topped with vials showing how much fat, sugar and salt were in commonly consumed foods.
“My head is starting to burn up,” Nakita said. “I’m never drinking Pepsi again.”
“I was surprised,” said her sister Joy, 9, noting how much fat was in her favorite food, french fries.
“I like this,” said her mother, Katrina Tobias, as she held daughter Brianna, 16 months. “It’s important for them to see it like this, visually. It’ll stick with them.”
“I hope it helps them make better choices,” said father Michael Tobias.
The table covered with vials of fat, sugar and salt — and even globs of “fat” — was just one of many set up Sunday at the church’s health fair.
Viann Johnson of the health committee said Seventh-Day Adventists have a strong belief in the importance of physical health, as well as spiritual and mental health.
Pastor Chris Holland said the importance of physical health was emphasized by one of the church’s founders, Ellen White.
Posters filled the room detailing what Holland called the “eight laws of health”: nutrition, exercise, water, sunshine, temperance, air, rest and trust.
Hoping to fill a need in the community for additional health resources, Johnson said the church hosted the public fair and invited numerous vendors.
Vendors provided information on topics including disease prevention and treatment, smoking cessation, exercise, nonmedicinal treatments, therapy, hospice care, healthful foods and mental health, and offered cooking demonstrations.
Children could have their faces painted, jump in an inflatable bounce, try hula hooping and take a quiz about the nutritional contents of cereal.
Johnson said she had not estimated how many people would come to the fair, which ran from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., but from the crowded room, it appeared to be a success, a success Holland said he would like to see grow into an annual, or even semiannual, event.
Holland said the fair was the capstone of a health-centered weekend hosted at the church. On Saturday evening, the church showed a documentary titled “Forks Over Knives” that examines the claim that most degenerative diseases can be controlled or even reversed by what people eat.