Tony Buettner of ‘Blue Zones’ on how to live longer lives |

Tony Buettner of ‘Blue Zones’ on how to live longer lives

Tony Buettner of Blue Zones will speak at the Aspen Institute as part of the Murdock Mind, Body, Spirit Series Friday at 5:30 p.m.
Courtesy photo |


Who: Tony Buettner of Blue Zones

What: The Aspen Institute Murdock Mind, Body, Spirit Series – “Blue Zones: Secrets of a Long Life”

When: Friday, Feb. 26, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Where: Paepcke Auditorium at The Aspen Institute

Cost: $20. Purchase tickets online at, by calling 970-920-5770, or in person at the Wheeler Opera House box office

For more information, contact Zoë Brown with The Aspen Institute at 970-544-7935

Tony Buettner knows the secrets of the world’s longest-living populations, and he may share a few of them during his lecture at the Aspen Institute this evening.

Spoiler alert: He knows what they eat and drink, how often they exercise and where they live.

Buettner is a spokesman for Blue Zones, an organization that works to apply the findings of the world’s longest-living people to individuals and communities throughout the U.S.

“The work that Tony Buettner and the Blue Zones projects are doing around the country is helping people live longer, happier and healthier lives,” Aspen Institute Vice President Cristal Logan said. “While Aspen is a very healthy community, there is still a lot to learn from the lifestyles of those living the longest around the globe.”

It started in the early 2000s, when Blue Zones teamed up with National Geographic to find and study the longest-lived populations across the globe.

Following the results of the Danish Twin Study — which finds that an individual’s genes determine merely 20 percent of his or her life longevity, while lifestyle and environment determine roughly 80 percent — Blue Zones and National Geograhpic focused on people’s lifestyles and environments, Buettner said.

With these two factors in mind, Blue Zones, National Geographic, the National Institute on Aging and a team of demographers collaborated to find these areas of the world where people have the longest life expectancies.

After years of research, they selected five areas of the world as their “Blue Zones,” one of which is the Barbagia region of Sardegna, Italy, home to the longest-living men.

On average, the men of Sardegna can expect to live a decade longer than American men, whose average life expectancy is 76 years, Buettner said.

Okinawa, Japan, boasts the population of longest-living women in the world and is another designated Blue Zone.

The discrepancy between the life expectancy of women in America and the women of Okinawa is even more significant, with Okinawa women living an average 12 years longer.

The Blue Zone of Ikaria, Greece, boasts one of the world’s lowest rates of middle age mortality as well as some of the lowest rates of dementia.

The Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, which is another Blue Zone, has low global rates of middle age mortality, as well.

Finally, the highest concentration of the Seventh Day Adventists, found in Loma Linda, California, is a designated Blue Zone.

They live roughly 10 years longer than their American counterparts, Buettner said.

Buettner and his team found nine commonalities between every one of the selected Blue Zones, which positively contribute to the area’s health and longevity.

Blue Zones dubbed these regions’ shared values and practices — which Buettner will share before his Aspen Institute audience this evening — as the “Power 9.”

Blue Zone hopes to improve population health by partnering with communities, cities and states across the U.S., and working with individuals and groups within these areas, from city leaders and elected officials to company employers and employees, grocery stores, restaurants and schools.

The work is critical, Buettner said, because the reality today is the 68 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, diabetes rates are skyrocketing, and for first time in human history, children are projected to live shorter lives than their parents.

“This model is unsustainable, not only for our economy but also for our heath care community,” Buettner said. “Things have to change.”

In some areas, they already have.

Since Blue Zone started its work in Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, and Manhattan Beach, California, the areas’ childhood obesity rates have declined 50 percent, Buettner said.

“This is a game-changing innovation for population health in America,” Buettner said.

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