BODY WORLDS' Producer Sets Sights on Disease Prevention, Creates New Museum Exhibition Addressing American Health Issues

Oct 26, 2010, 11:52 ET from BODY WORLDS

SAN JOSE, Calif., Oct. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Anatomist Dr. Gunther von Hagens and physician, Dr. Angelina Whalley, the trailblazing scientist and creative designer behind Gunther von Hagens'  BODY WORLDS -- the anatomical exhibitions seen by 32 million visitors worldwide -- announced BODY WORLDS Vital, a new health exhibition to educate Americans on common diseases and preventive care, and to encourage them towards wellness.

BODY WORLDS Vital  is the latest chapter in their HUMAN SAGA project -- a series of curated museum blockbusters that began with explorations of the brain and neuroscience (The Three Pound Gem); cardiology and the heart (The Story of the Heart); human development (The Cycle of Life); and longevity and aging (The Mirror of Time).  Taken together, the exhibitions created by von Hagens and Whalley -- by now seen by more than 14 million Americans -- have influenced public health in fundamental ways.  The powerful "I Quit" smoking-cessation installation unfurled at each BODY WORLDS exhibition has resulted in countless numbers of Americans quitting smoking.  Public health advocates have called the display featuring a cautionary plea from the late actor Yul Brynner taped during his battle with lung cancer, the blackened lungs of smokers, a repository for tossed cigarettes, and pledge cards to strengthen resolve, the most effective smoking-cessation program in memory. The obesity specimens in BODY WORLDS have had a similar effect with the exhibition organizers receiving grateful letters from shaken museum visitors pledging to surrender unhealthy diets.

Though Americans hold divergent views on healthcare reform, more than 70 percent of them favor an increase in investment on disease prevention and health education. "There are some recurring diseases that afflict Americans regardless of gender: the obesity pandemic, heart disease and stroke, cancer, diabetes and kidney disease, respiratory disease and Alzheimer's. The remarkable thing is that people can begin to protect themselves against these diseases by making certain dietary and lifestyle choices. There is a holistic dimension that is missing in conventional healthcare," said von Hagens.  "While our current exhibitions have helped people consider human anatomy, physiology, disease and health, and led them to meditations on death and dying, our new exhibition on health and vitality is the most American of our exhibitions. It looks at disease prevention in the context of human potential, motion, and the psychology of change," said Whalley.  

Citing the Framingham obesity study -- a 32 year study of 12,000 people in Framingham, Massachusetts that showed how obesity spread through social networks influencing spouses, siblings and friends towards weight gain -- von Hagens and Whalley say they wish for BODY WORLDS Vital to have a similar communal, multigenerational, and longitudinal effect on visitors.  "We hope for the message of vitality, fitness and health to be contagious and relayed by visitors to their social networks," von Hagens said.  "I hope for visitors to Vital to be inspired by the body's potential and capacity of change," Whalley said.

BODY WORLDS Vital will debut at the Tech Museum in San Jose, CA on November 13, 2010.  

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