For Health Reasons, Fort Worth Is Going Blue

Fort Worth wants to cut medical bills and invest in healthier lives. Therefore, the city is going blue in a five-year project called the Blue Zones project. But it has nothing to do with water or the ocean.

It is a spin-off of a book by the author Dan Buettner.

“Blue Zones is actually an offshoot of a 10-year National Geographic project that found parts of the world where people live longer with a fraction of the rate of heart disease, cancer and diabetes,” says Buettner. “And then, in a way, we reversed it. So we figured out what these people do that explains longevity. “

Buettner works with Texas Health Resources, the City of Fort Worth, and community groups to create what are known as “blue zones”.

“We focus on the buildings and the built-in environment that people live in, so I don’t chase individuals,” he says. “I use evidence-based methods to optimize our streets, our restaurants and our grocery stores.”

That means asking schools to limit eating to cafeterias laden with fruits and vegetables, building sidewalks and bike paths, or asking employers to tie gym membership to lower insurance rates.

After a two-week estimate of $ 500,000, Fort Worth officials gave the go-ahead for the plan. Officials do not provide a cost estimate for the five-year project, just say that it is privately funded.

Larry Tubb loves the idea of ​​the project. He is with the Child Health Center operated by Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.

“People who have the facts and the choice will naturally make healthier choices,” he says.

Tubb notes that Fort Worth doesn’t have an unusually severe obesity problem or that its children are in poorer health, but Blue Zone supporters like him want to encourage healthier habits, which hopefully will reduce hospital visits.

“It’s not really about the current state of health.” Says Tubb. “What is more important is the willingness of the community to work together to improve the health of every individual in the community, including the children.”

The 33-year-old Carl Roberts II won’t buy it. He was eating a lobster pizza at Fireside Pies in Fort Worth and frowned when asked about the Blue Zones project.

“We’re not Austin, we’re not San Francisco, we’re Fort Worth!” Says Roberts. “We don’t do local transport well. We don’t repent. We don’t ride bikes. We are not hippies. We’re free spirited, we’re cowboys here. We like our meat and our potatoes. “

His friend, 25-year-old Taylor Rosier, was more optimistic.

“I really feel like people won’t be forced to do it as long as it’s an option,” says Rosier. “I think it’s fantastic. I think it gives people an incentive to make their lives healthier, to go outside a little more and enjoy the fresh air. “

Nearby, over at Lisa’s Fried Chicken, Edith Gonzalez turned the idea on its head.

“My husband tells me every day [to live healthier], so it wouldn’t matter, ”she says. “Probably call me fat or something.”

Gonzalez says she worked at Lisa’s Fried Chicken for 11 years and eats chicken every day.

“You have to die somehow so that you can enjoy your life as well,” she says.

The Blue Zones ambassadors say it’s not about getting people to cut out on fried food – it just means they might cycle to that fast food place and order a fresh veggie or two next time.

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