Fighting Maryland Fat in the General Assembly

Community activist wants to see healthier options around Capitol Heights

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    One community activist in Prince George’s County is so worried about the proliferation of establishments that deep fry part of their menu before asking “Do you want fries with that?” that he is pushing legislation against it.

    Arthur Turner is negotiating with individual developers, trying to keep out eateries such as McDonald’s and Checkers for relatively healthier choices like Chipotle or Panera Bread, according to the Washington Post
    "Our county is inundated with unhealthy food choices," Turner said. "In some areas, if someone wants a healthy choice, there are no options. We want healthy options in our community." 
    State Sen. David C. Harrington (D-Prince George's County) has now introduced a bill in the General Assembly that would impose a moratorium on issuing licenses to new fast-food businesses.

    Turner's group the Coalition of Central Prince George's Community Organizations negotiated with a developer to keep fast-food restaurants out of a project planned for Capitol Heights.

    The question is, will fewer fast-food options curb your fast-food enthusiasm?
    Opponents say people have the right to make the decision on their own, to be able to choose between a double quarter pounder with cheese, a large fry and a milkshake or a turkey and swiss on honey wheat bread and a smoothie. 
    But what if they need help making the right choice?
    In May 2007, Montgomery County passed a bill, unanimously, to ban the use of artificial trans fats for most foods sold in county restaurants and at prepared food sections of supermarkets. It was the first county in the nation to pass such a ban.
    The county defined the step as a way to help consumers who are already taking steps to eat and shop healthier.
    Which is similar to Sen. Harrington’s theory, according to his interview with the Post.
    "We need recreation centers, physical education in schools, menus changed in schools," Harrington said. "This alone is not going to curb the data we're seeing, but it moves the agenda forward."
     Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters (D-Prince George's County), chairman of the county's delegation in his chamber, said that he is open to discussing the issue. The delegation must approve the bill, and then it would have to be approved by committee before it could go to the General Assembly for a vote.

    A vote that may rely upon whether the delegation breaks for lunch at Five Guys that day or not.