In 2013, the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index® – the world’s most extensive data set on well-being – revealed the city of Fort Worth would have ranked near the worst in the nation, 185th out of 190 large metro areas, based on how its citizens felt and experienced their daily lives. At that time, it was estimated that poor health would have cost the city $5 billion in lost productivity and health care costs over the next 10 years, undermining its economic viability and residents’ quality of life.
To help the residents of Fort Worth live longer, active and healthier lives, Texas Health infused $5 million in 2014 and partnered with city leaders, the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, Healthways, Inc. and the Blue Zones Project® to make healthy choices easier. Blue Zones Project is a community-led, well-being improvement initiative informed by lifestyles of the world’s longest-living people.
Since then, these organizations have worked across all sectors to transform schools, grocery stores, policies, restaurants, worksites and faith-based organizations to surround residents with healthier messages and options. This entailed forging public-private collaborations, engaging thousands of neighbors and creating lasting improvements.
Additionally, Texas Health took steps to enable employees to live longer and better lives by installing walking paths, enhancing wellness programs, offering more nutritious food options and more. In 2016, our system became the world’s largest Blue Zones Project Approved™ Worksite for adopting healthier behaviors.
After a five-year investment to make the healthy choice the easy choice, Fort Worth is now a certified Blue Zones Community® – the largest in the nation. Fort Worth’s well-being ranking improved by 127 places to 58th. Rankings in the five elements of well-being – purpose, social, financial, community and physical – also have outpaced national trends, which declined during this same timeframe.
To earn Blue Zones Project Approved™ certification:
- Nearly 88,000 residents took the Blue Zones Personal Pledge to make healthier changes and participate in wellness activities.
- Fort Worth companies implemented policies that improve well-being, such as walking or standing meetings. This has impacted about 78,000 people.
- Residents who exercise 30+ minutes at least three days a week increased by 17 percent.
- About 6,000 people eat in Blue Zones Project-approved restaurants and another 25,000 eat in approved worksite cafes each day. They are offered more nutritious options and smaller portions.
- Fort Worth enacted 24 new food, built environment or smoking policies. A smoking ban led to a 31 percent drop in smoking rates.
- Schools provided improved campuses for about 30,000 students, who are now moving more before, during and after school, eating healthier and participating in mindfulness exercises.
- Grocery stores are providing healthier food options and recipes. People who consume five or more servings of produce at least four days a week increased 3 percent.
In 2019, the Blue Zones Project team, under the umbrella of Texas Health, will continue to collaborate with community leaders and nearly 500 partner organizations to expand and deepen the impact of this well-being initiative in the community.