Monday, December 14, 2009

As part of his effort to fight obesity statewide, Delaware Governor Jack Markell has issued an executive order that requires state transportation officials to consider all modes of getting around when planning road improvements. The state also is circulating a handbook that gives municipal officials hands-on advice to create more walkable communities.

The governor is incorporating the state's new five-year strategic plan to make environmental changes that make it easier for people to make healthy choices. At the state Department of Transportation, new road projects won't include just engineering for road design. State officials also look to see if the project can be modified to be more bike- and pedestrian-friendly.

"It sounds so easy," said Jennifer Baldwin, the state pedestrian coordinator-planner. "But historically, departments of transportation ... have focused on motor vehicles."

In Delaware, 36 percent of adults overweight and 28 percent were obese in 2007, while the obesity rate among high school students has climbed from 10.1 percent to 13.2 percent in eight years and 20 percent of those students say they get no physical activity.


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