|By Kristen Consillio, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The state's dominant medical insurer is partnering with
The project will connect health experts with employers, schools, restaurants and grocery stores to find ways to provide better and affordable choices, such as making fresh fruit the default option at food establishments rather than french fries, reducing portions on plate lunches or adding bike paths and sidewalks to make it easier for people to forgo driving.
"Rather than trying to put the focus on changing individuals' behavior, we try to change the whole environment so the healthy choice is not only easier, but unavoidable," said Buettner, who works for
The focus on small changes can add up to big benefits for the community, HMSA said, lowering health care costs by reducing the rates of obesity, smoking and chronic diseases.
"The way people usually look at health -- going out to exercise or on a diet -- has no long-term effect. Very few people will stay on a diet their whole life," said HMSA President and Chief Executive Officer
The insurer also is working to make its work site a "
Gold didn't know how much the company ultimately will invest in the five-year program, but said the
The project accepts only 1 in 5 communities, or about 20 of the 115 communities that have applied to date.
Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow, wrote "The Blue Zones: Lessons For Living Longer from the People Who've Lived the Longest," which identified common elements of cultures and healthy living that produced longer life expectancy. He has worked with 17 cities and the state of
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