Adventist Health announced on April 8, 2020, that it has acquired Blue Zones, an organization that is a pioneer in taking a systemic and environmental approach to improving the health of entire cities and communities.
The organization’s work in more than 50 communities across the United States has been credited with double-digit drops in obesity, smoking, and Body Mass Index (BMI), achieving millions of dollars of savings in health-care costs.
This move by Adventist Health comes at a time when public attention is especially focused on the interconnectedness of the individual’s health to that of friends and neighbors in the face of the coronavirus crisis. Post-pandemic, a focus on improving and strengthening community and public health will be more critical than ever as communities across the nation and globe navigate recovery, according to sources at Adventist Health.
“Adventist Health has always believed in creating environments of belonging and easy access to healthy lifestyles, and we also know that the future of health care goes beyond the role of traditional hospitals by investing in our communities to improve people’s overall wellbeing,” Adventist Health president and CEO Scott Reiner said. “Adventist Health’s work with Blue Zones represents the future of health care and is a major component of our plan to redefine the role of health organizations across America and strengthens our commitment to inspiring health, wholeness, and hope.”
According to sources at Blue Zones, the organization infuses healthy choices, enhances connections, instills purpose, and fuels hope to impact communities where people live, work, and play. This includes use of the Blue Zones Power9 lessons of longevity through a comprehensive model for transformational change called the Life Radius — a focus on people, places, and policy. Rather than relying solely on individual behavior change, Blue Zones focuses on optimizing environments to improve health by design.
“Blue Zones is proud to pioneer the advancement of the health of entire cities by systematically improving living environments, so the healthy choice is the easy choice,” said Dan Buettner, Blue Zones founder and National Geographic Fellow and explorer. “Adventist Health shares our values,” Buettner added, “and its vision for community wellbeing aligns perfectly with our work. We believe that Blue Zones can have an even bigger impact as part of a strong and proven health organization.”
At a time when Americans are spending significantly more on health care than other countries without that investment translating to better health outcomes, this kind of model can improve the health of individuals and communities, and in turn, make care more affordable, organization leaders said. Such a transformational move is especially powerful, they said, as American society seeks to rebuild and find solutions to restore the health of the nation once the current coronavirus crisis passes.
Adventist Health’s vision to improve individual wellbeing by investing in healthier communities is rooted in Seventh-day Adventist cultural heritage. Since its inception in the 1840s, the Seventh-day Adventist tradition has encouraged a lifestyle of health and wellness. These practices are infused into Adventist communities across the country, including Loma Linda, California. The average life expectancy in the United States is roughly 78 years, but in Loma Linda, the average male lives to 89 and female to 91 years. Buettner identified Loma Linda, California, as one of the world’s five so-called blue zones — longevity hotspots — in a National Geographic cover story in November 2005.
Reiner added, “In addition to our acquisition news, through Blue Zones, we have also concurrently completed an early renewal to continue collaborating to provide Blue Zones Project by Sharecare.”
Jeff Arnold, founder, chairman, and CEO of Sharecare commented, “We are excited to extend our partnership with Blue Zones, and now Adventist Health, to advance and grow our market-leading solution for community-driven health.”