Fort Worth’s Blue Zone Project Is a Great Idea, But Can It Be Achieved?

The backers of a ground-breaking $50 million campaign to scale back obesity and improve health in Fort Worth are warning that the benefits will not come quickly.It's already two years since the launch of the city's Blue Zones project, based on healthy-living principles in four "longevity hotspot" areas in other parts of the world. Funded mainly by Texas Health Resources, the largest hospital network in North Texas, the campaign aims to dramatically improve the community's health and reduce the crippling cost of healthcare. A 2009 report by the state comptroller estimated that obesity cost Texas businesses $9.5 billion that year, and warned that the problem was getting worse.However, obesity rates are still rising: They have grown by 4 percent since the start of the program, according to the Well-Being Index Gallup survey commissioned by the project organizers. That means 35 percent of Fort Worth residents have a body mass index of at least 30 - the normal range is 18.5-25. The index is calculated by dividing a person's weight by the square of his or her heightEven the latest number "is likely an underestimate," said Dan Whitters, Gallup's WBI research director, because the number is based on self-reported weight and height data that respondents were asked to provide over the phone. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, one of the Blue Zone project's most ardent supporters, said that changing deeply ingrained habits takes time.   Continue reading...

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