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Blue Zones Project seeks to bring healthy change to Bakersfield

Posted at 5:19 PM, Sep 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-22 23:16:26-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — In an announcement on Thursday, Adventist Health, Blue Zones LLC, California Resources Corporation, and the City of Bakersfield announced the launch of the Blue Zones Project in Bakersfield.

Based on research by National Geographic Fellow best-selling author Dan Buettner, the Blue Zones Project is an initiative to improve the quality of life for entire communities by optimizing the spaces around them in such a way that healthy choices are easy and accessible.

Kiyoshi Tomono is the Executive Director of Blue Zones Project Bakersfield. Tomono will oversee implementation of the project with a goal of driving community engagement and overall quality-of-life improvement for the city’s residents.

“We know right here in our community that we have a host of health issues that we have to deal with,” said Tomono. “From chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, obesity, chronic conditions that we definitely need to be dealing with.”

The Blue Zones Project is based on research about the regions of the world with the highest concentrations of people who live to be 100 years or older. It takes a systematic environmental approach to improving wellbeing through policy, programs, building design, social networks, and the built environment.

“It’s a holistic approach of improving wellbeing for everybody here in Kern County,” said Tomono. “It’s not just an approach for the affluent areas. We want to make sure that everyone in this community is living well and thriving.”

Nick Buettner, co-founder and vice president of Blue Zones LLC, says that some of the goals the initiative has for Bakersfield are to lower obesity rates, improve mental health, increase physical activity, and get healthier food in schools.

“To make those healthy choices easier if you have the right strategy and you have the right measurements,” said Buettner. “We’re having great success that includes lower healthcare claims, more economic to downtown because you’re creating that strong downtown that’s walkable and bikeable.”

The Blue Zones Project has impacted many cities in the United States by helping communities improve their mental and physical health.

Planned walking and biking paths, partnerships with local grocery stores and convenience stores to promote healthy foods, and adding healthy foods to school lunches are some of the ways the Blue Zones Project has brought positive change to other cities.

The Blue Zones Project has the same plans for Bakersfield.

“In a five year period, we at Blue Zones want to certify Bakersfield, and what certification is based on is more lowering the wellbeing risks that cause disease in our lives, so we can all have better quality and quantity of life,” said Buettner.