WXXI AM News

Can Rochester be a Blue Zone?

May 10, 2017

Credit freeimages.com/Julia Freeman-Woolpert

Local government leaders and medical professionals who attended a luncheon  at the Rochester Academy of Medicine Wednesday heard about how Rochester can become a "Blue Zone".

Blue Zones are parts of the world known for the healthy habits and longevity of their populations.

Tony Buettner , a spokesman for Blue Zones, LLC, a company that promotes healthy communities through individual habits and public policies, says governments can improve the health of their citizens through good planning.

"We know that cities thrive when they're walkable and bikeable and there are places for people to meet and celebrate their downtowns. Governments can nudge people into moving more and not just relying all the time on cars. Obviously, we need them, but do we really need a car just to go six blocks to the grocery store?"

Buettner said communities can promote healthier living by making the healthy choice the easy choice in places where people spend most of their time - at work, school, and in neighborhoods. Simple changes, he said, lead people to naturally adopt healthier behaviors.

“Have healthy food choices that are easy. When you go to restaurants to have half portions or have menus that show you what the healthy choices are and name them so they sound good. Bring water first, take salt shakers off the table and bring them only when they're needed."

The Blue Zones Project is based on principles identified during a ten-year worldwide longevity study commissioned by National Geographic.

Several geographic areas were identified as longevity hotspots: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Icaria,Greece, and among the Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California.

In general, these populations were found to be physically active with strong social engagement and commitment to family, and a mostly plant-based diet.

Buettner said 42 U.S. cities in nine states have adopted the Blue Zone Project principles.