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Whole Foods Market and Blue Zones Join Forces to Spark Well-Being Transformation in Austin Metro

Whole Foods Market, along with Austin leaders, has joined forces with Blue Zones to begin creating a plan for well-being transformation. It will start with an in-depth assessment by the Blue Zones team of the Austin Metro area and population that will help determine how to make it a healthier and happier place to live, work, grow up, and grow old.

Blue Zones is based on research and principles developed by Dan Buettner, National Geographic Fellow and New York Times bestselling author, who identified the cultures of the world—or blue zones—with the healthiest, longest-living populations.

Health and life expectancy have been on a decline in America, and research shows that where people live has a bigger influence on their health than their genetics. Blue Zones tackles this so-called “zip code effect” using scientifically proven lessons of longevity, health, and happiness gleaned from 20 years of research to boost the well-being of entire communities.

“I’m excited to partner personally with Austin and Whole Foods and to lead our global experts to explore opportunities to increase the health and well-being of everyone in the region,” said Dan Buettner, founder of Blue Zones.

“Blue Zones is invested in creating meaningful and lasting change in communities and we’re excited to team up in our hometown of Austin to explore innovative ways to improve wellness,” said John Mackey, CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods Market. “Their holistic approach to improving health and wellbeing complements Whole Foods Market’s mission to nourish people and the planet.”

A pioneer in the natural and organics movement, Whole Foods Market was founded in Austin 40 years ago as an alternative to conventional supermarkets. It currently operates six stores in Austin and the surrounding metro and more than 500 locations across the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

Blue Zones focuses on the single largest determinant of our health: the place we live. By focusing on the Life Radius—the area close to home where people spend 90% of their lives—Blue Zones has been able to move the needle in improving overall population health, raising employee and student productivity, and boosting economic vitality and development.

The first phase of Blue Zones Activate is the assessment, where Blue Zones experts work with local leaders to assess readiness and build a plan for change. The team, made up of global experts in food systems, built environment, tobacco, alcohol, and happiness, will begin immediate work with leaders and organizations to assess the strengths, needs, and challenges that Austin metro residents are facing today. The Blue Zones team of experts will create a transformation plan that, once implemented, can drive widespread improvements in well-being, reductions in health-related costs, and improve economic vitality in the region.

The needs, desires, and readiness of the community helps determine where to go next—into a Phase II or a Phase III path to improving the well-being of the region. Phase II of Blue Zones Activate focuses on policy improvement as the most powerful and cost-effective lever in improving the health of a region. Blue Zones experts work with local leaders to identify and then implement key policy changes which serve as long-lasting interventions for current and future generations. Phase III is a Blue Zones Project—the full Life Radius Model—which is the perfect storm of change with a full focus on people, places, on policy. This community-wide approach optimizes manmade surroundings, systems, and social networks so that healthier choices are easier in all the places people live, work, learn, and play.

Ben Leedle, CEO of Blue Zones, says, “We are excited to work with Whole Foods and community leaders in Austin in this shared purpose of improving the lives of current and future generations in this region. We know improved well-being leads to healthier and happier residents, a better and more productive workforce, and a more vibrant, sustainable economy.“

For more information on Blue Zones Activate or to learn how to get involved, visit

About Blue Zones®

Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better. The company’s work is rooted in explorations and research done by National Geographic fellow Dan Buettner in Blue Zones regions around the world, where people live extraordinarily long or happy lives. The original research and findings were released in Buettner's bestselling books The Blue Zones Solution, The Blue Zones of Happiness, The Blue Zones, and Thrive—all published by National Geographic books. Using original Blue Zones research, Blue Zones works with cities to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to a city's environment, policy, and social networks. Participating communities have experienced double digit drops in obesity and tobacco use and have saved millions of dollars in healthcare costs. For more information, visit

About Whole Foods Market

For almost 40 years, Whole Foods Market has been the world’s leading natural and organic foods retailer. As the first national certified organic grocer, Whole Foods Market has more than 500 stores in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. To learn more about Whole Foods Market, please visit

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