Sacramento County Public Health and Blue Zones Partner on Alzheimer’s Innovation and Well-Being Initiative
Blue Zones initiative includes assessment and plan to help residents live better and longer lives
SACRAMENTO, CA, July 27, 2023 — Sacramento County Public Health has joined forces with Blue Zones, the global leader in longevity research and community well-being transformation, to launch Blue Zones Activate in Sacramento County. The initiative uses an evidence-based approach to make healthy choices easier in all the places people spend the most time. The effort will begin with an in-depth assessment of the County to determine how to make it a dementia-friendly community and a healthier place to live, work, and thrive.
“Sacramento County is steadfast in its mission to enhance the health and well-being of all residents, irrespective of zip code, so that they can live a happy, healthy and long life,” said Rich Desmond, Chair of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. “Under Governor Newsom’s unwavering commitment and leadership in Alzheimer’s prevention, we have been presented with remarkable opportunities, including our partnership with Blue Zones for the Alzheimer’s Innovation and Well-Being Initiative. The collaboration between Blue Zones, the State, and our County is a source of genuine excitement, as we confront the sobering reality that Alzheimer’s disease continues to claim the lives of too many older adults in Sacramento County.”
The launch of Blue Zones Activate in Sacramento County is the result of the Governor’s Task Force on Alzheimer’s Prevention, Preparedness and the Path Forward. Launched in 2019 by Governor Newsom and chaired by Former First Lady of California Maria Shriver, the task force delivered groundbreaking recommendations on preparing California for an aging state and offered long-term Alzheimer’s and dementia related solutions.
“As one of the most diverse regions in California, Sacramento County is the perfect place to break ground on this life-altering initiative,” said Maria Shriver, Former First Lady of California and Chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Alzheimer’s Prevention, Preparedness and the Path Forward. “Thank you to Governor Newsom and state leaders for their enduring dedication to reshape the way we care for individuals with dementia and create a future where everyone can age with dignity.”
Dan Buettner, Blue Zones founder and National Geographic Explorer and Fellow, said, “Some of the original blue zones suffer one-fifth the rate of dementia as we do in the United States. In Sacramento, we’ll be deploying the same Blue Zones approach we’ve used to raise life expectancy. This time, however, we’ll be customizing it to also drive down the rate of Alzheimer’s disease.”
Counties and cities that are prepared to step up to the challenge would follow Blue Zones’ environmental approach to transform their communities into dementia-friendly environments that support a healthy lifestyle that can prevent, reduce, and sometimes even reverse the damaging effects of dementia. Long-term, place-based initiatives by Blue Zones in communities across the country have already resulted in widespread population well-being improvement, including double-digit drops in obesity and tobacco use and millions of dollars in healthcare cost savings.
Sacramento County is the first community in California to use the Blue Zones model to create a dementia-friendly community that supports well-being of all residents.
The Blue Zones Approach
Blue Zones employs a proven solution in collaboration with communities to help people live better and longer lives. The company’s work is based on research and principles developed by founder Dan Buettner, who identified the cultures of the world – or blue zones – with the healthiest, longest-living populations.
The Blue Zones approach focuses on the single largest determinant of health: where people live. Instead of focusing on just individual behavior change, Blue Zones helps communities make permanent changes to systems and surroundings so it’s easier for residents to eat wisely, move naturally, and connect more with others as they move throughout their day. By improving the Life Radius® – the area close to home where most Americans spend 90% of their lives – Blue Zones transformations have been able to dramatically improve overall population health and well-being, raise employee and student productivity, and boost economic vitality and development.
Ben Leedle, Blue Zones CEO and Co-founder of Blue Zones Project, said: “We’ve been applying the Blue Zones model across the country to create communities that foster individual and population well-being to improve health and happiness, reduce healthcare costs, and create positive long-term economic impact. I’m excited about our commitment to apply our solution to the rising problem of Alzheimer’s disease and believe that applying policy and place-based initiatives has the great potential to positively impact cognitive health and reduce the risk of this devastating disease.”
About Blue Zones®
Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live better, longer. The company’s work is rooted in explorations and research done by National Geographic Fellow Dan Buettner in Blue Zones regions around the world, where people live extraordinarily long and/or happy lives. The original research and findings were released in Buettner’s bestselling books The Blue Zones Solution, The Blue Zones of Happiness, The Blue Zones, Thrive, and Blue Zones Kitchen—all published by National Geographic books. Using original Blue Zones research, Blue Zones works with cities and counties to make healthy choices easier through permanent and semi-permanent changes to our human-made surroundings. Participating communities have experienced double-digit drops in obesity and tobacco use and have saved millions of dollars in healthcare costs. For more information, visit bluezones.com.
About Sacramento County Public Health
The mission of Sacramento County Public Health is to promote, protect, and assure conditions for optimal health and public safety for residents and communities of Sacramento County through leadership, collaboration, prevention, and response. Sacramento County Public Health provides health education and primary prevention services and is a central part of a comprehensive network of public health services responsible for providing accurate health information to the local communities. Public Health monitors the health status of Sacramento’s residents, sets health priorities, and evaluates the effectiveness of health initiatives. For more information, visit http://www.scph.com.
Naomi Imatome-Yun, Blue Zones, LLC
Samantha Mott, Sacramento County Public Health