Growth Concerns in Jefferson County

Health officials say newly built homes are being constructed in areas that do not promote a healthy lifestyle.

Anna Wright moved from Old Lloyd Road in the sprawling countryside to a newly built townhouse in downtown Monticello. Wright says she loves the convenience of living in the city limits.

Anna Wright says, "I think it's wonderful, everything is within reach. Monticello has some good shops and restaurants. I just love it."

Health officials are trying to get more contractors to build what they call smart communities that include sidewalks and bicycle trials, promoting a healthy lifestyle for residents.

Monday, health officials held a summit at the Opera House to address their concerns.

Kim Barnhill, the health director, says, "We feel that can make a tremendous difference in their health. We've looked at portion sizes, we looked at trying to increase physical activity; it's just not enough. We have to start looking at the built environment is doing for people's health.

Dan Burden adds, "We’ve been building for our car, we've been making it impossible to stay active, and the only way to do that is to get to the right scale, which means to lay out neighborhoods the way our grandfathers used to lay them out.”

Organizers are hoping this message will resonate with all in attendance and eventually change the statistics of obesity and health care disparities in the rural area.

Barnhill says Jefferson ranks three in the state when it comes to overweight and obese people. Living in a healthy community will certainly change those statistics.