SAYRE - Added sugars.

They are "everywhere" in processed food, and processed food constitutes most of what we eat, said Kasandra Smith, who will be receiving her B.S. from Mansfield University's Nutrition and Dietetics Program in August.

And added sugar is something we crave, said Smith.

The added sugar in processed food, which is in forms ranging from high fructose corn syrup to raw sugar, is contributing to America's obesity problem, Smith said.

Sheila Russell, owner of the Russell Sprouts Farm produce business in Rome, said that the added sugar in processed food is addictive.

Smith and Russell gave two of the informational presentations that were part of Guthrie's first-ever Obesity Prevention and Awareness Health Fair, which was held Saturday at the Guthrie Weight Loss Center in Sayre.

The fair featured 39 vendors and organizations, including Weight Watchers, the Valley Running Club, the Obesity Action Coalition, Boy Scout and Girl Scout groups, and the Athens Wesleyan Church's Vacation Bible School Sports Camp.

"Our primary focus (at the fair) is on healthy eating and fitness," said Mary Hutz, bariatric coordinator for the Guthrie Weight Loss Center. "We want to provide community members with resources" that they can use to address and help prevent obesity, she said.

The event also featured health screenings and demonstrations of various fitness activities, including tae kwon do.

Besides Smith's presentation, there were informational presentations at the fair made by Dr. Verlyn Warrington of the Guthrie Weight Loss Center, by fitness specialists, and by registered dietitians.

"Strong evidence shows that children and adolescents who consume more sugar-sweetened beverages have a higher body weight compared to those who drink less" of them, Smith said during her presentation, which focused on added sugars in food.

In an interview, Russell pointed out that locally grown produce not only lacks the added sugar, but has more nutrients than processed food.

"The more the natural the state of food, the healthier it is," she said.

Participating in a "community supported agriculture" (CSA) program, such as one run by Russell Sprouts Farm, is a way of committing yourself to eating healthy for months at a time, she said.

Under Russell Sprouts Farm's CSA program, households in the area pay $440 up front, for which they receive a box of produce each week for 20 weeks, which is grown at the farm.

Five to eight different kinds of produce are in each box, which is about a half-bushel, she said.

The produce is chemical-free, she said.

And, as part of the CSA program, Russell Sprouts includes information about incorporating the produce into meals, she said.

"It's a good opportunity to eat well and affordably," Russell said. "If you bought the same thing at an organic food store, you'd pay at least 30 percent more."

The farm drops off the boxes each week for pickup at the Weigh Station Cafe in Towanda and the Bakery Cafe Too in Sayre, or you can pick them up at the farm.

Chris VanDruff was at the fair to talk about the community runs that his group, the Valley Running Club, organizes.

The runs take place almost every day on roads in the Valley or in various parks in the area, he said.

There is no cost to participate in the runs, which, among other things, give people an opportunity to meet people with a shared interest, he said.

"Before you know it, you've gone two to three miles. You're chatting away and having a good time," he said.

To find out more about the Valley Running Club, which formed four years ago, go to the group's Facebook page.

Hutz said she was pleased with the turnout at the fair, which was close to 200 people.

Guthrie plans to hold the fair every two years, she said.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: