Fort Worth los­ing weight, gain­ing ground on health

Star-Telegram (Sunday) - - Opinion - BY BETSY PRICE, BAR­CLAY BER­DAN AND BILL THORN­TON Spe­cial to the Star-Tele­gram

Well-be­ing is at a new high in Fort Worth, as the city reaches a mile­stone in its ef­forts to be­come one of the na­tion’s health­i­est com­mu­ni­ties. Af­ter a five-year push to make healthy choices eas­ier, Fort Worth has earned the ti­tle of Blue Zones Com­mu­nity.

Blue Zones Project is a com­mu­nity-led well-be­ing im­prove­ment ini­tia­tive in­formed by life­styles of the world’s long­est liv­ing peo­ple.

In­vited here in 2013 by the city, Texas Health Re­sources, and the Fort Worth Cham­ber of Com­merce, Blue Zones Project has part­nered with city lead­ers, em­ploy­ers, schools, restau­rants, gro­cery stores and faith­based or­ga­ni­za­tions to im­ple­ment prac­tices that make healthy choices eas­ier and sup­port longer, bet­ter lives.

Fort Worth joins 19 cities across the coun­try in earn­ing the des­ig­na­tion and is now the na­tion’s largest Blue Zones Com­mu­nity.

We made an in­vest­ment in com­mu­nity well-be­ing, and it is pay­ing off. The Gallup-Share­care Well­Be­ing In­dex, an an­nual study of well-be­ing across the na­tion, shows that the city’s res­i­dents are thriv­ing. Fort Worth’s over­all 2018 Well-Be­ing In­dex score rose to 62.5, a gain of nearly four points over 2014 fig­ures. Mean­while the U.S. score is 61.3 and trend­ing down­ward.

Com­pared to the 190 largest metro ar­eas re­ported na­tion­ally, Fort Worth’s equiv­a­lent rank for well-be­ing rose from 185th in 2014 to 58th in 2017.

More than ever, Fort Worth is a place where fam­i­lies want to live and com­pa­nies want to do busi­ness — and the changes in­spired and sup­ported by Blue Zones Project have played a cen­tral role in get­ting us there.

More than 88,000 peo­ple have taken the Blue Zones Per­sonal Pledge or par­tic­i­pated in a Blue Zones Project ac­tiv­ity, such as a walk­ing group or Pur­pose Work­shop.

Some 130 em­ploy­ers, rep­re­sent­ing 78,000 em­ploy­ees, have im­ple­mented poli­cies that im­prove well-be­ing, such as sup­port­ing walk­ing or stand­ing meet­ings, des­ig­nat­ing a quiet place for work­ers to down­shift, and en­cour­ag­ing mi­cro­breaks for em­ploy­ees to stretch and move.

Forty-five schools, rep­re­sent­ing 30,000 stu­dents, have made well­be­ing im­prove­ments in­clud­ing cam­pus gar­dens, mind­ful­ness ex­er­cises, and more fresh pro­duce in the cafe­te­ria.

On any given day, 6,000 peo­ple dine in Blue Zones Project-ap­proved restau­rants of­fer­ing more nu­tri­tious op­tions and smaller por­tions, and an­other 25,000 eat in Blue Zones Project-ap­proved work­site cafes.

Twenty gro­cery stores are high­light­ing Blue Zones-in­spired foods and shar­ing healthy recipes.

In all, more than 300 or­ga­ni­za­tions have joined the move­ment — mak­ing small changes which, added to­gether, have ma­jor im­pact. Every day, 200,000 peo­ple in Fort Worth are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the ben­e­fits as­so­ci­ated with Blue Zones Project.

And those ben­e­fits are pro­found. In­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies are liv­ing their best life. Busi­nesses that take on the chal­lenge have re­al­ized health­care cost sav­ings. We’re mak­ing it eas­ier and safer for kids to walk or bike to school. Fort Worth has im­proved ac­cess to fresh pro­duce in food deserts and im­ple­mented a com­pre­hen­sive smok­ing ban.

Blue Zones Project alone could not achieve these re­sults. Our com­mu­nity and hun­dreds of part­ners and or­ga­ni­za­tions work­ing to­gether with a uni­fied vi­sion to im­prove the health and well-be­ing of every res­i­dent have achieved some­thing re­mark­able. Through in­no­va­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion, we’ve cre­ated a reimag­ined Fort Worth: a more ac­tive, liv­able place, a place where we’ve re­duced the risks of chronic dis­ease by pri­or­i­tiz­ing a pre­ven­tive ap­proach.

To mark our achieve­ment of Blue Zones Com­mu­nity sta­tus, the city is host­ing a spe­cial event from 2 to 5 p.m. Satur­day, Nov. 10, at Will Rogers Memo­rial Cen­ter. We in­vite ev­ery­one in Fort Worth to come cel­e­brate what we’ve ac­com­plished, and to look with us to­ward the fu­ture. Af­ter all, this is just the be­gin­ning of Fort Worth’s well-be­ing jour­ney.

While there is more work to be done, we have an in­cred­i­bly solid foun­da­tion on which to build. Learn more at To­gether we’re mak­ing a stronger, health­ier Fort Worth. Betsy Price is mayor of Fort Worth. Bar­clay Ber­dan is CEO of Texas Health Re­sources. Bill Thorn­ton is pres­i­dent and CEO of the Fort Worth Cham­ber of Com­merce.

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