Obesity in Harford County
Is obesity really a problem here in Harford County?
While weight is just one factor in measuring health, the obesity epidemic, and related health implications and costs, is a serious health issue in our community.
According to the data, 72.4% of all Harford County adults are either overweight or obese (CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) 2015). That means that roughly 2 out of every 3 adults in our community weigh more than the recommended healthy weight guidelines. In addition, 1 out of every 4 of our children are also overweight or obese.
Why does overweight and obesity matter?
- Obesity is the 2nd leading cause of preventable deaths. The top three causes of mortality in our community are cancer, heart disease, and stroke – all of which are negatively affected by obesity.
- People who are obese have an extra $1,850 (and those morbidly obese an extra $5,500) in health care costs, compared with normal weight people.
- Over 40% of all cancers and other chronic diseases are lifestyle related (smoking, poor eating habits, lack of physical activity, etc.)
- Even modest weight loss can have a big impact on health – a 5% weight loss in an obese person can reduce their mortality risk by 12%.
Dr. Russell Moy, Deputy Health Officer for the Harford County Health Department presented an Updated State of the Health of the County PowerPoint at the annual 2018 Annual Local Health Improvement Coalition (LHIC) presentation.
What are we doing locally to try to improve the health of our community?
Building a healthier Harford County – Implementing the community planning ideas outlined in the Healthy Communities Section of Harford NEXT issued by the Department of Planning and Zoning.
- Creating a more walkable/bikeable community
- Increasing public spaces
- Linking communities through off-road paths to retail, libraries, work, and other areas.
School Wellness – working with the Harford County Public Schools on a number of initiatives:
- Integrating more movement into the school day
- Increasing the amount of local produce served through Farm to School programs
- Improving nutrition education through the Days of Taste Program
- Implementing special programs lifestyle programs for morbidly obese students
Community Gardens – Expanding the number of community, school, and faith-based gardens
Faith-Based Wellness – assisting Faith-Based organizations with creating and implementing Health and Wellness Ministries for healthier congregations
Senior Health – There are a number of programs available through the Harford County Office on Aging and local Senior Centers.
- Healthy Harford offers the:
- WATCH Program for high-risk seniors with chronic illness
- Car Fit – June 20th, 2019, St. Margaret’s Middle School, Churchville – a FREE safe driving program in partnership with the State Highway Assoc. and AAA where an Occupational Therapist adjusts the mirrors, seat and steering positioning of your car so to improve driver safety. Call HealthLink at 800-515-0044 to schedule an appointment.
- All three Harford County Municipalities are HEAL Communities
- Healthy Community Planning Board
- Obesity Task Force
- Healthy Harford Events to raise awareness of healthy lifestyles