Report on County's Needs Shows Obesity, Workforce Friction

"Two-thirds of our county is either overweight or obese," the county's health officer said.

A state of the county report based on focus group testing and the U.S. Census concluded that the most pressing needs in Anne Arundel County are affordable housing, transportation and quality child care.

Anne Arundel County's 2012 Needs Assessment Report, titled Poverty Amongst Plenty IV, was recently released by the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County.

A summary of the report's findings shows that population growth in Anne Arundel County has slowed since the 1970s and 1980s, with only a 10 percent increase since 2000, and obesity is growing—29 percent of all adults are obese and 38 percent are overweight.

When addressing the Anne Arundel County Council in October, Health Department Officer Dr. Angela M. Wakhweya urged it to lead by example and champion a "healthy weight, as well as your family and those in the districts you serve."

"Two-thirds of our county is either overweight or obese," said Wakhweya. "That's 65 percent of our population. That is not healthy."

The head of the Anne Arundel County Health Department said obesity and overweight issues are the agency’s top priority, with the second being cancer, the county's second-leading cause of death.

The county's population growth rate may be slowing but Anne Arundel is becoming more diverse with a rapidly growing Hispanic/Latino population, which has increased 383 percent since 1990. 

Despite a growing workforce population, Anne Arundel County is still one of the three most expensive places to live in Maryland, with housing costs having doubled since 2001.

A cost-of-living analysis indicates that a family of one adult and one child would require an income of at least $58,000 to live in the county. But while the 2010 U.S. Census indicated the median family income in the county was $97,974, the report revealed there are 27,000 families earning less than $50,000. The median income for people in the workforce is just $41,876.

One of the results of this income and housing disparity is that homelessness is on the rise in the county, with 3,605 people reporting no primary residence, including 1,100 children.

"The number of homeless children has essentially doubled since 2008, with some variation from year to year," according to the report.

Single-parent poverty in the county is also increasing. Of the 139,262 family households in the county, 23 percent are led by single parents with female heads of household making up 17 percent.

The report also reflects some positive changes in the community.

The teenage birth rate in the county is trending downward, from 2.1 percent in 2007 to 1.9 percent in 2010. Infant mortality rates are also on the decline.

Students perform better in Anne Arundel County schools than anywhere else in the state on standardized tests. Students regularly score higher on the Maryland School Assessments than other regions of the state by 3 to 9 percent. These students are also more well behaved, with local schools showing a 53 percent decline over the last six years in disciplinary referrals.

However, the report notes a disparity between baseline student performance and students on the free and reduced meal program. When looking through that lens, student performance drops in math and science significantly, with only 70 percent of eighth-grade students scoring proficient or advanced in reading, and 53.3 percent scoring proficient or advanced in math in the 2011-2012 school year.

The county is in the middle of the pack in terms of health statewide, with a 29 percent obesity rating in adults. Furthermore, 15 percent of children ages 2-19 were considered overweight in the most recent study, conducted in 2006.

To read the complete 2012 Needs Assessment Report, titled Poverty Amongst Plenty IV, visit the CFAAC's website. For further reading, the Anne Arundel County Department of Health's 2012 Report Card is available here.

ashley collins January 08, 2013 at 09:20 PM
The problems is its cheaper to eat bad myself as a stay at home mom of two strive to feed my family healthier and its hard. A box of sugary cereal is 2 dollars verses a box of oatmeal and fruit that 5 dollars a piece and lasts half the length of time. Luckily my kids refuse to eat cheap sugary packed cereals but it is very hard staying on a healthy budget. So do we live in the county that is more expensive and in my opinion safer and eat less healthy to keep out kids in good schools and in a safe and productive environment. My husband and I have this debate all the time he is from Baltimore county were as I am born and raised on the peninsula and I put my foot down on were I wanted to raise our kids and it sure wasent going to be the city. I'm sure I'm not the only one and I have no idea how to help the problem. Also with the work my husband does he makes what the average two person income makes but we still struggle and I know there is families out there that have to work longer crazy hours just to live here to bring there kids up in a safer place with great schools and a sense of neighborly compassion were everyone knows everyone. Please if you have any tips send them my way thanks.
Shannon February 14, 2013 at 04:48 PM
The fact is that Maryland in general manages money wrong, and we spend more money on welfare for people that are addicted to drugs, don't take care of their children, are illegal immigrants that work under the table, and to be really honest if you are a white single mother and you walk into the Welfare Office to seek assistance, you are asked by the DHS workers why you aren't working. After my Husband died suddenly at the age of 30, I was left with 3 kids all under 8, walked into the DHS office to seek assistance because I was forced to leave my job where I worked overnights to take care of my kids at night, and I was told by the worker that I was able bodied and could work so why wasn't I? Really? I was looking for a day job, grieving, and raising a 3 kids. Yet, I now work in an area where almost everyone is on assistance, they do not look for jobs, have multiple children on welfare, and there is a lot of drug addiction in the area. Yet, people that ask for assistance because it is a real need are denied, so we can continue to support people mooching off of the system. We also need to put more money towards going after dead beat parents, and making them pay for their kids. It should be mandatory to pay 1/2 of the cost of living per child per month....not some amount based off of their income. If I have to work 3 jobs to support my kids, then a dead beat parent should have to as well. O'Malley needs to put something in place ASAP.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »