State Senator Steve Santarsiero Announces Grant To Explore Blue Zones For Healthier Living in Bucks County

“The Blue Zones model has the potential to transform our community in a way that will make people’s lives better and allow them to live longer and healthier,” said Senator Santarsiero.
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Why do people in specific parts of the world exceed average life expectancy and reach or exceed 100 years of age? That question is the basis for the Netflix documentary Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones.

After watching the four-part series, State Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-10) had another question: could a Blue Zone be created in Bucks County?

On May 31, Santarsiero announced the first in a series of steps to improve the health and wellbeing of area residents in an endeavor called Blue Zones Ignite Bucks Area.

“The Blue Zones model has the potential to transform our community in a way that will make people’s lives better and allow them to live longer and healthier,” said Senator Santarsiero. “I’m excited to see the assessment phase unfold and I look forward to working with the stakeholders to develop a plan that truly can be transformative.”

State grant funding is allowing Bucks County and the Bucks County Health Improvement Partnership (BCHIP) to team with longevity experts Blue Zones on a new community wellness push.

Blue Zones 1 - Bucks County Beacon - State Senator Steve Santarsiero Announces Grant To Explore Blue Zones For Healthier Living in Bucks County
“The people who live the longest tend to live within environments where the healthy choice is the easy or even unavoidable choice.” Image courtesy of Blue Zones.

During the May press conference held at Bucks County Community College, attendees had an opportunity to hear from Margaret Brown, Blue Zone’s Vice President of Business Development.

“The five areas in the world where people live the longest, healthiest, disease-free lives – and it’s important to note that while we all know individuals who have lived to age 100 – these places had centenarians at a rate that just could not be explained by anything else but their environment,” said Brown.

The original Blue Zones are Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; Icaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California.

Brown explained that residents of these zones shared certain lifestyle traits including natural daily activity, a sense of purpose, a healthy diet including a high consumption of vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and nuts that nourish the body, community and connected social networks including intergenerational households were characteristics found in all of the zones.

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“There is no question that I believe as a society we are becoming much too reliant on our phones, our computers, and this virtual world that so many people live in. We saw during the pandemic what that did to people,” Santarsiero said.

“We saw what it did to students at every level when they were not with their friends and colleagues, but they were in their rooms, basically, away from everything else. It had an absolute impact on their health, on their socialization, on their ability to grow as human beings,” he added, emphasizing the need for community and social interaction.

The Blue Zones approach stems from over 25 years of studying areas with concentrated centenarian populations worldwide. Its work in more than 75 U.S. communities has focused on replicating lifestyle practices tied to greater longevity.

Known as the “Ignite” phase, Blue Zones experts will first assess current well-being levels countywide through meetings with local leaders and residents, followed by recommendations modeled after the longest-living populations globally.

Municipalities included in the Blue Zones Ignite phase include Bristol Township, Bristol Borough, Falls Township, Tullytown Borough, Morrisville Borough, Lower Makefield Township, Yardley Borough, Newtown Township, Newtown Borough, Upper Makefield Township, Solebury Township, New Hope Borough, Buckingham Township, Doylestown Township, Doylestown Borough, Plumstead Township, New Britain Township, New Britain Borough and Chalfont Borough.

“BCHIP is looking forward to working with Senator Santarsiero and the Blue Zone team to identify opportunities and new collaborations that will improve the health and wellbeing of our community,” said Executive Director Kimberly Everett.

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Senator Santarsiero will host a telephone town hall with BCHIP and Blue Zones at 7 p.m. on July 9 to introduce the project to tens of thousands of residents across the Bucks area. Residents in the project area can register to join the call at

Participating communities have experienced double-digit drops in obesity and tobacco use and have saved millions of dollars in health care costs, according to Blue Zone Project.

Bucks County Health Improvement Partnership (BCHIP) seeks to provide a leadership role in Bucks County through a collaborative approach to address gaps in health services and to improve the health status of the community. BCHIP was established over 25 years ago with support from our Bucks County Hospitals, The Bucks County Department of Health and the Bucks County Medical Society with a shared vision of improving the health in Bucks County. These organizations continue to identify opportunities to coordinate their efforts to identify gaps in services and identify resources to address these gaps.

Blue Zones® employs evidence-based ways to help people live better, longer lives. The company’s work is rooted in the identification, explorations, and research done by National Geographic Fellow Dan Buettner of the Blue Zones regions around the world. Using original Blue Zones research, Blue Zones works with cities and counties to make healthy choices easier through permanent and semi-permanent changes to our human-made surroundings.

The original research and findings were released in Buettner’s bestselling books The Blue Zones Solution, The Blue Zones of Happiness, Blue Zones, Thrive, and Blue Zones Kitchen.

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Jenny Stephens

Jenny Stephens is a freelance journalist who has written for a variety of publications, including The Reporter. An avid collector of all things vintage, she resides in the Philadelphia area.

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