Established last year, in part as a reaction to Harford County's population becoming increasingly overweight (at least on average), an Obesity Task Force studying the problem made an interim report last week to the Harford County Council that contains no real surprises.
Recommendations made to date include:
• Establishing a comprehensive community campaign, partnering with key "influencers" (schools, businesses, child care centers and health providers);
• Encouraging walking and biking and development more walking paths;
• Creating more public educational engagement;
• Using schools to teach meal planning and ways to exercise outside of the school day; and
• Promoting farmer's markets and advocating for additional fruit and vegetable tastings in elementary schools.
Or, to simplify, exercise more and eat more healthy foods at mealtime, while laying off the snacks.
The rules of this game have been well-known for quite some time. The problem is, we're surrounded by food options that are as delicious as they are unhealthy, even as healthy options are more expensive, harder to find and take longer to prepare. But wait, there's more. Harford County is a commuter county, which means time that might be spent exercising is probably spent driving. And there's the whole matter of the temptation to relax in front of one of the few hundred cable channels available or at a computer monitor catching up on the Internet.
The county council, especially in its dual role as the County Board of Health, certainly has something of a role in raising awareness of the issue. After all, it serves as the county board of health. Still, there are other entities that are more suited to address the issue.
The bottom line on this one is the county Obesity Task Force seems to be on the right track in terms of making sensible recommendations. The problem is we're not likely as a community to follow those recommendations because most of us already know the solution all too well, but we succumb too easily to the temptation of treats and television rather than eating our vegetables and going out for a run.
Fixing that is a nut each of us has to crack alone.