How one town added years to residents’ livesBy Sandra Cooper • Oct 22nd, 2009 • Category: True Health News, Weight Loss
It began as an experiment to make a small Minnesota town healthier by encouraging exercise and healthier eating. It resulted in adding more than three years to the lives of the residents who participated in the so-called "Vitality Project".
The project was developed by adventurer and travel writer Dan Buettner and sponsored by the AARP and United Health Foundation. It set out to change the community and to make it a healthier place to live by adding sidewalks and bike trails to make exercising easier. Other changes included restaurants adding healthier items on their menus, schools banning birthday parties with sugary snacks and residents creating "walking buses" where an adult supervises a group of kids walking to school.
"A lot of health professionals are buying into the idea that this is a problem we’re going to have to tackle in a lot of different ways. This idea of a community approach is something a lot of people are really getting excited about," said Melissa Nelson, a food and nutrition expert from the University of Minnesota.
Supporters say the success of the one year experiment proves that small changes in activity, diet and lifestyle are important to maintain good health and prevent disease.