Want to Live Longer? Study Places that Do

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If you want to improve the health of Americans, why not look around the world for places where people live the longest, healthiest lives and try to copy whatever it is they're doing?

That's exactly what Dan Buettner has done. He is the author of literally a town makeover involving restaurants, schools, businesses, parents, and town leaders. They created bike and walking paths, made restaurant menus more nutritious, prohibited junk food in schools, and created projects such as a community garden and workshops that helped people become more engaged with each other. When the five-month "Vitality Project" ended in October, 2009 a total of 3,464 residents had participated. The average projected lifespan rose by 2.9 years and residents uniformly reported feeling better physically and emotionally.Read more about the Albert Lea project This approach makes so much sense to me. We've all heard the statistics. Two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese, increasing their risk of medical problems like heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. Most people cannot simply "snap out of" their unhealthy lifestyles through willpower - even if they're motivated to change. Experts like Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More than We Think", have shown how difficult it is to eat properly and live a healthy lifestyle when we're surrounded by an environment that promotes lousy habits. So change the environment.
  • Jonathan LaPook

    Dr. Jonathan LaPook is the medical correspondent for the CBS Evening News. Follow him on Twitter at @DrLaPook

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