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I greatly appreciate the coverage of the Calvert County Commission for Women’s recent forum devoted to health issues [“Community gathers, discusses women’s health,” Feb. 1, The Calvert Recorder]. It was extremely encouraging to see people so interested in making this a healthier community. Participants from across the county had a lot of insightful and practical ideas to address issues ranging from mental health to heart disease. The staff at the Calvert County Health Department looks forward to working with many of the attendees over the upcoming months.

I would like to clarify a quote attributed to me in the article. Although the article implied that I said that “nothing works” to reduce obesity, my comments were intended to convey that there have not been any programs to successfully reduce obesity on a national level. I did not mean to imply that there is nothing to help motivated individuals get to a healthier weight. Because weight control in our society has become such a complex challenge, it may not be possible to develop a one-size-fits-all approach. Personalized plans that take into account each person or family’s time demands for meal preparation, eating preferences, ability to be physically active and other factors are critical in getting to a healthier weight and being able to maintain it.

In Calvert County, 70 percent of adults are overweight or obese. The reason this was mentioned at the Commission for Women’s meeting is its link with heart disease (the leading killer of women in the U.S.) and cancer. Depending on the degree of excess weight, obese women have a breast cancer risk that is 30 to 50 percent higher than women at a healthy weight. Obesity also increases the risk of multiple other cancers, including uterine and colon cancers.

While we watched the Baltimore Ravens jump out to an early Super Bowl lead, we had grilled chicken with Jamaican jerk sauce, brown rice and frozen peas that we steamed for five minutes. Since one of the supermarkets had chicken breasts on sale for 99 cents per pound this week, our dinner cost about $1 per person. There are plenty of other meals that are easy to prepare, taste great and are inexpensive as long as you are willing to take some time to cook. We do most of our cooking on the weekend and reheat our meals during the work week.

We’re all creatures of habit, and habits are hard to break. I would encourage everyone to make one healthier change to their meals this week. Every few weeks, add another healthier change until you’ve gradually improved your day-to-day eating habits. Your waistline will thank you, your heart will thank you and, hopefully someday, you’ll be thankful for the cancer you never developed.

Later this month, the Calvert County Health Department will start a link on our website (www.calverthealth.org) with healthy, affordable and easy-to-prepare recipes. We encourage people to submit their favorite recipes and truly make this a community effort.

Larry Polsky, Prince Frederick

The writer is the Calvert County Health Officer.