COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — The Blue Zones Project of Southwest Florida has been working to make Collier County, Bonita Springs and Estero healthier, happier places to live since 2015. It's sponsored by NCH Healthcare System, and has partnered with over 780 restaurants, schools, workplaces, churches and homeowner's associations to make healthier choices, easier. Fox 4 is breaking down the data to see what's changed over the last six years.
Southwest Florida's overall well-being score from Blue Zones Project is 72.2 percent.
"And that's compared to the nation in the state, which is about 64 for both," Deb Logan, the Executive Director of the Blue Zones Project of SWFL, said.
Southwest Florida's well-being score is up 5.2 percent since 2015.
“Which is a really incredible increase, especially considering the last two years have involved a pandemic and higher risk of lower well-being during that time," Logan said.
She said people in Southwest Florida answer an online questionnaire. Boston University analyzes the data, and calculates Southwest Florida's well-being. Fox 4 is breaking down some of that data from 2015 when the project started, through 2021.
Several factors play into calculating our well-being score, including:
- Physical well-being (up 6.1 percent in our area since 2015)
- Financial well-being (up 3.4 percent in our area since 2015)
- Other factors like social and community well-being
Blue Zones Project also looked at overall well-being by community. East Naples saw the biggest improvement, up 6.7 percent since the project started in 2015. Marco Island has the highest well-being score, at 75.4 percent. Overall, in Southwest Florida, Logan said more people are exercising at least 30 minutes per day, three days a week.
“We had an 11.2 percent increase in in exercise, so about 70 percent of people are out there moving,” Logan said.
Logan said Blue Zones also measures sense of purpose.
"That's things like learning something new every day, liking where I live, excited to get up in the morning, having something that I love to do. We know that people who live on purpose can live up to seven years longer than people who don't have purpose,” she said.
Logan said Southwest Florida's sense of purpose has gone up, despite the pandemic; 76 percent of people like what they do every day. That's a 5.3 percent increase since 2015. The well-being data from Blue Zones also looks at the percentage of people who are thriving.
"We have almost 79 percent that is thriving throughout Southwest Florida," she said.
That number went up 16.7 percent.
"But that leaves about 21 percent overall that says, 'Gosh, I'm struggling or suffering,' based on how they answer questions," Logan said.
The Blue Zones data also points out other places Southwest Florida is falling short.
“Whether it's overweight or obesity, it continues to be fairly high, and we're at about 57 percent of people are either overweight or obese," she said. "We know we're not eating enough fruits and vegetables. That number actually dropped.”
That's down 8.7 percent since 2015.
"Most people living in Southwest Florida aren't eating enough nuts on a daily basis, of all things. But nuts, we know, are really good for our health. They have a lot of fiber, a lot of good nutrients," Logan said.
For more of the Blue Zones Project data, click here.