Today Gallup, a leading international polling agency, and Healthways, Inc. (NASDAQ: HWAY), a global leader in well-being improvement, announced the latest findings from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (WBI), which show substantial improvements in the well-being of residents in the Beach Cities region of Southern California (Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach). The considerable uptick in well-being, which far outpaces improvements measured in California and nationwide, coincides with the efforts of the Blue Zones Project -- an innovative, community well-being improvement initiative that launched in the Beach Cities region in December 2010 and is a joint effort between Healthways, Beach Cities Health District and Blue Zones®.
The initial baseline WBI survey of Beach Cities residents was conducted in October 2010, measuring six areas of physical, emotional and social health. During the fall of 2012, the WBI survey was again administered to a population-representative sample of more than 1,200 Beach Cities residents. The latest findings, which have a margin of error of +/- 2.1-3.5 percent, reveal the following:
- Since 2010, residents of the Beach Cities have seen their well-being climb three points for an overall composite well-being score of 76.4. Research demonstrates that each point in well-being improvement equates to a statistically significant percent decrease in the likelihood of hospital admission and ER visits and in the likelihood of incurring healthcare costs1;
- Obesity: Physical health has improved considerably in the Beach Cities, with a 14 percent reduction in obesity, or an estimated 1,645 fewer adults than in 2010 who are obese, which equates to a $2.35 million savings on healthcare-related costs for Beach Cities businesses, insurers and residents2;
- Smoking: Smoking rates among Beach Cities residents dropped by 3,484 or more than 30 percent, as just 7 percent of Beach Cities residents indicated they smoke, compared to 10.6 percent in 2010 (and compared to 16 percent statewide and 21 percent nationally). This improvement equates to a $6.97 million savings in healthcare-related costs since 20103;
- Exercise: The number of residents who reported engaging in exercise at least 30 minutes, three times per week, climbed by more than 10 percent since 2010; and
- Healthy eating: Nearly 10 percent more residents report healthier eating habits than in 2010, eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables, on four or more days in the past week.
“The positive well-being trend in the Beach Cities is both authentic and impressive. The rate at which the community has improved since 2010 far surpasses what has been measured in the large majority of other communities nationwide,” said Dan Witters, Principal at Gallup. “Given the timing of this progress, we believe the Blue Zones Project has been a strong driver of the Beach Cities success.”
The Blue Zones Project, which began under the name Vitality City, measures whether a community could meaningfully improve its overall well-being, as measured by the WBI, by implementing dozens of environmental, policy and social changes that work together to make the healthy choice the easy choice. The project was born out of National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner’s examination of the longest-living and healthiest peoples on the planet. Buettner discovered nine health and longevity lessons that these well-being-rich communities, called “Blue Zones,” share and sought to apply them to populations within the United States. The nine lessons, called the “Power 9,” delivered in conjunction with Healthways solutions and tools that are proven to improve well-being and reduce health-related costs, guide the Blue Zones Project approach to positively shifting community well-being.
“In Blue Zones, people don’t try to live to 100, it happens to them,” says Buettner. “The key to success in America is to understand the environmental factors that have made people healthy around the world and reconstruct them in a culturally appropriate way.”
“The Well-Being Index findings confirm that we can measurably improve the health and quality of life in a community by taking a holistic approach to addressing not just physical health, but the social and emotional factors that are pivotal to greater well-being,” said Ben R. Leedle, Jr., Healthways President and Chief Executive Officer. “The success we are experiencing in the Beach Cities provides important lessons as we replicate this innovative model for the state of Iowa and elsewhere.”
Since the beginning of the initiative, the Blue Zones Project has worked with civic leaders, schools, cities, employers, restaurants, grocery stores and individuals to create a healthier, more productive and engaged community. During the first two years of the Blue Zones Project:
- The Beach Cities have adopted bicycle master plans, livability policies and smoking restrictions
- 15,000 Beach Cities residents have participated in one or more Blue Zones Projects initiatives
- 60 local restaurants have achieved or are pursuing Blue Zones Restaurant™ designation by making modest changes to promote a healthier experience for patrons (such as creating healthier menu options)
- 16 local employers have achieved or are pursuing Blue Zones Worksite™ designation by committing to implement simple changes that increase employee well-being and create healthier work environments
- All three school districts have launched “Walking School Bus” programs that encourage increased physical activity and social connection via chaperoned walks to school
“We fought hard to bring the Blue Zones Project to the Beach Cities because we believed this preventative, community-based model would advance our ability to appreciably improve the lives of the residents we serve,” said Susan Burden, CEO of Beach Cities Health District. “Having worked in health care management for more than 25 years, it is not often you have the opportunity to address health issues before it is too late, but the Blue Zones Project is making that possible. We are thrilled to see our community transforming in such a sustainable way and look forward to working with our residents to continue the positive momentum.”
For more information about the Blue Zones Project or to take a pledge of action, please visit www.BlueZonesProject.com.
About Blue Zones Project™
The Blue Zones Project™, formerly known as Healthways | Blue Zones Vitality City™ initiative, is a community-wide well-being improvement initiative in the Beach Cities region of Los Angeles, to create healthier, happier and more productive citizens. It uses permanent, evidence-based environmental and policy changes to motivate residents to adopt and maintain healthier lifestyles. Using the Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index™ to benchmark the well-being of the beach cities and measure progress, Blue Zones Project aims to create a beach cities community that is healthier and more walkable, bikeable, and socially engaged—where the healthy choice is the easy choice. The three-year initiative is a joint effort between Healthways, one of the world’s leading well-being improvement companies, Blue Zones, founded by New York Times best-selling author and national longevity expert Dan Buettner, and the lead local partner, Beach Cities Health District, a public agency dedicated to enhancing individual and community health through preventive health programs in the cities of Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach.
About Healthways, Inc.
Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) is the largest independent global provider of well-being improvement solutions. Dedicated to creating a healthier world one person at a time, the Company uses the science of behavior change to produce and measure positive change in well-being for our customers, which include employers, integrated health systems, hospitals, physicians, health plans, communities and government entities. We provide highly specific and personalized support for each individual and their team of experts to optimize each participant’s health and productivity and to reduce health-related costs. Results are achieved by addressing longitudinal health risks and care needs of everyone in a given population. The Company has scaled its proprietary technology infrastructure and delivery capabilities developed over 30 years and now serves approximately 40 million people on four continents. Learn more at www.healthways.com or www.silversneakers.com.
About Blue Zones®
Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better. Its work is rooted in The New York Times best-selling books The Blue Zones and Thrive, published by National Geographic books. In 2009, Blue Zones applied the tenets of the books to Albert Lea, Minn., raising life expectancy and lowering healthcare costs for city workers by 40 percent. Blue Zones takes a systematic, environmental approach to wellbeing, which focuses on optimizing policy, building design, social networks, and the built environment. For more information, visit www.bluezones.com.
Gallup has studied human nature and behavior for more than 70 years. Its reputation for delivering relevant, timely and visionary research on what people around the world think and feel is the cornerstone of the organization. Gallup employs many of the world’s leading scientists in management, economics, psychology and sociology, and its consultants assist leaders in identifying and monitoring behavioral economic indicators worldwide. Gallup consultants help organizations, cities, and countries solve the world’s foremost problems with advanced research and analysis.
About the Gallup-Healthways Partnership
In a historic partnership for American health transformation, Gallup and Healthways have developed a new national measure of well-being that provides leaders with the information they need to create solutions for making Americans healthier.
Gallup and Healthways initiated a 25-year partnership on January 2, 2008, merging decades of clinical research and development expertise, health leadership, and behavioral economics research to track and understand the key factors that drive well-being.
The Gallup-Healthways collaboration draws on a team of individuals with diverse backgrounds and high-level achievements including authors of best-selling books on employee engagement and organizational psychology; a Nobel Prize winner in economic sciences whose research pioneered behavioral economics; leaders specializing in health support interventions; and the inventor of an economic model that establishes a direct correlation between human nature in the workplace, employee engagement and business outcomes.
About Beach Cities Health District
Beach Cities Health District (BCHD) is the largest preventive health agency in the nation, serving the communities of Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach since 1955. As a public agency, it offers an extensive range of dynamic health and wellness programs, with innovative services and facilities to promote health and prevent diseases in every lifespan. BCHD operates AdventurePlex, a health and fitness center where kids play their way to good health, and the Center for Health & Fitness, a comprehensive medically based fitness center. Visit www.bchd.org or call (310) 374-3426 for more information.
1 “Evaluation of the Relationship Between Individual Well-Being and Future Health Care Utilization and Cost” Population Health Management, Volume 15, Number 00 2012. Patricia L. Harrison, MPH, James E. Pope, MD, Carter R. Coberley, PhD, and Elizabeth Y. Rula, PhD.
2 Finklestein, E.A., Trogdon, J.G., Cohen, J.W., and Dietz, W. (July 2009). “Annual Medical Spending Attributable to Obesity: Payer- and Service-Specific Estimates.” Health Affairs 28(5) w822-w831.
3 Solberg LI, Maciosek MV, Edwards NM, Khanchandani HS, Goodman MJ. Repeated tobacco‐use screening and intervention in clinical practice: health impact and cost effectiveness. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2006;31(1):62‐71.