Klamath Falls Becomes First Certified Blue Zones Community in the Northwest; for Top Health Well-Being Transformation and Environmental Policies

Congratulations to Klamath Falls! Our area has become the first certified Blue Zones community in the Pacific Northwest, culminating a multi-year effort to improve healthy lifestyles, according to a news release.

Healthy Klamath, Sky Lakes Medical Center, Sharecare, Inc. and Blue Zones, LLC achieved the certified Blue Zones Community status, which recognizes Klamath Falls’ community well-being transformation through successful implementation of the Blue Zones Project by Sharecare, a first-of-its-kind population health program that brings evidence-based best practices in built environment, policy, and social networks to participating cities.

“We are proud of Klamath Falls for achieving this milestone and honored to be recognized as the first certified Blue Zones Community in the Pacific Northwest,” said Klamath Falls Mayor Carol Westfall.

Brought to Oregon through an innovative sponsorship by Cambia Health Foundation in collaboration with Sharecare and Blue Zones, the local Blue Zones Project initiative encourages all Oregon communities to optimize their surroundings to make the healthy choice the easy choice. The project is a privately led, publicly endorsed initiative intended to inspire community members to improve their well-being.

Cambia Health Foundation, Sky Lakes Medical Center, Cascade Health Alliance, the City of Klamath Falls, and Klamath County provided financial backing to support the project in Klamath Falls.

In 2015, Klamath Falls was selected to be the first Blue Zones Project demonstration site in the Pacific Northwest.

Klamath Falls achieved Blue Zones Community status after reaching the following key milestones, which are required goals to achieve certification:

* 50% of the top 20 identified worksites became Blue Zones Project Approved.

* 25% of schools became approved.

* 25% of restaurants became approved.

* 25% of grocery stores became approved.

* 50% of the top 20 identified faith-based organizations became approved.

* 25% of citizens have committed to the Blue Zones Project and completed at least one well-being improvement action. More than 4,000 individuals have taken the Blue Zones Personal Pledge.

* The community has successfully completed the Blue Zones Community Policy bundle.

Since the project was introduced in Klamath Falls in 2015, the community has held steady in purpose, social, and overall well-being, while the rest of the state and U.S. declined. Smoking rates have declined from 17% down to 13% and 40% of residents report feeling pride in their community — up from 35% when the project launched.

Klamath Falls has outperformed rural Oregon well-being trends since 2015, seeing 11.8% fewer health risks than expected if the community had followed state trends. This risk avoidance equates to over $900,000 in avoided medical and productivity costs to the community from 2015 to 2018.

For more information, please visit www.bluezonesproject.com or www.healthyklamath.org/bluezones.

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