Your recent article about obesity in Harford County was interesting. Obesity is up all over the country. Harford County is no exception. The suggestion that everyone get more "active" is easier said than done. I applaud the county council member who had weight loss surgery. I underwent the same surgery. It is a radical lifestyle change. I was fortunate in that my insurance covered it. A lot of people have insurance that either doesn't cover it or requires the patient to pay thousands of dollars up front. Or their insurance won't cover it at all. Or they have no insurance. The fact is that this surgery is still controversial. Morbid obesity is actually an illness. People who are morbidly obese are not lacking in self respect or self control. Obesity can be controlled if caught early enough; however modern life makes it difficult to be active and to eat the right kinds of foods.
A lot of people can't afford gym memberships, even ones that cost very little. Look around the county. Sidewalks are scarce. If they are available, they are often in such bad shape, they are dangerous if you want to walk fast. There are so few places to get out and walk at all. It's also dangerous for bikers. There are virtually no bike lanes. Again, look around the county. There is virtually no open space that is not a ball field.
It is obvious the decision makers don't see what I see every day: more and more people walking and biking. There are a lot of people – especially young people – who work at our local fast food restaurants. They can't afford a car. I saw one young woman walking along Route 7 dressed in a fast food uniform, making her way to work in Belcamp. There was no place for her to walk safely. She had to walk in the street. I see people walking to work along Route 924 every day. Luckily there is a wide shoulder. Lighting is poor at night all over the country. People are walking to and from work at night. The roads are poorly lit and dangerous.
Every open space is gobbled up by yet another strip center or big box store. We can't force people to eat right. We can help people to be more active by having open space for walking, running and jogging with playground equipment for children. County officials would benefit by checking out Glasgow State Park in Delaware, near Elkton. It's a great spot for residents to go out for a leisurely walk, a power walk, jog or run. We can help people to be more fit by having safe places for people to walk. County planners don't seem to understand that quality of life involves more than just having lot of shopping centers.