Those searching for the next health improvement ‘silver bullet’ are advised by Dan Buettner of the Blue Zones Project℠ to consider “silver buckshot:” creating healthy communities by integrating policy, built environment, social networks, structural context and people’s sense of purpose.
Buettner calls ‘bullets’ like individual responsibility and the diet/exercise combination insufficient on their own, pointing out that they fall victim to the health care equivalent of the Hawthorne Effect.
Instead, it’s about the buckshot approach of optimizing community within people’s life radius – the 20-mile area around workplace and home where individuals spend 80% of their time – through engagement of government, businesses, retailers, infrastructure planners, schools and citizens. The Blue Zones approach was built on examples from other parts of the world and successful practical application in Albert Lea Minnesota and three California cities.
The entire state of Iowa is next, and one wonders why Arizona couldn’t join them. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield is funding the Iowa Blue Zones Project statewide for five years, with the high-profile public backing of the Governor. The immodest goals include adding “12 happy, healthy years” to citizens lives and realizing up to $16 billion in cost savings. That sounds like the kind of public-private solution to reducing a state’s health care cost burden that someone could get behind.