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What local governments can do to improve our health

As doctors, we are often asked, "What is one simple thing I can do to improve my health?" Depending on the person, we may counsel our patients to lose a few pounds, quit smoking, eat better or exercise more, just to name a few.

Today, though, we have a different prescription to share. We urge local governments across the state to pass bills like CB 17-2015, the Howard County Council bill that will make healthier food and drinks more widely available on public property ("A healthier Howard," April 29).

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For the past two decades, we have been sounding the alarm about the high rates of chronic disease in our families. Doctors are now diagnosing even children with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. This needs to stop. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Institute of Medicine, measures like CB 17-2015 will improve the health of our communities, family, and workforce. We think it's time for local governments across the state to take this kind of smart action.

To see wide scale improvements in health, we need to transform the food and physical activity environment on public property, in our schools, in civic organizations, in our faith communities, at work, and at home. By passing bills like CB 17-2015, local governments will do their part and ensure that healthier food and drinks are more available, accessible and affordable to public employees and visitors to public property. Take it from us, passing this bill is a prescription worth filling.

Drs. Susan Chaitovitz and Tyler Cymet

The writers are president of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Maryland Chapter and president of

MedChi, the Maryland State Medical Society.

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