With Harford County's obesity rate jumping by 130 percent during the last decade, the Obesity Task Force released its final report Tuesday on how it plans to battle the bulge in the coming years.
In the mid-1990s, the county's obesity rate was 11.4 percent overall. Today, it is 26.2 percent; 37.3 percent of the county's population is considered overweight.
The report also shows 9.7 percent of youth are obese.
The county hopes to get 41.4 percent of adults and 9 percent of youth to a healthy weight in 2014.
Final recommendations from the subcommittees, which were headed by Health Department Director Susan Kelly and vice-chair County Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti, include the following:
• Encourage access to healthy food.
• Support school wellness.
• Implement the bike and pedestrian master plan.
• Encourage multimodal and active transportation.
• Encourage changes that emphasize active movement.
• Implement the 2012 land preservation parks and recreation plan.
• Create and employ a unified message of healthy eating and active living.
• Establish healthy designation programs.
• Sustain obesity task force initiatives.
One idea includes an initiative called Healthy Harford Restaurants, which would give incentives to restaurants that offer at least three healthy menu items, post nutrition information, are trans-fat free and smoke-free and commit to obtaining food management or comparable certification.
The 15-member task force has met since Oct. 18, 2011, and focused on access to healthy food, the built environment and community engagement.
Lisanti said the final report exceeded her expectations for the task force, noting how important it is for changes to be made to get the county healthy.
"I hope today is the beginning of a time that we reverse that trend," she said. "An unhealthy community is just unsustainable."
Lisanti said it is important to consider having a wellness coordinator.