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How healthy is St. Charles County?

Partners for Progress [PfP] of Greater St. Charles County wants St. Charles to bring itself and its community closer to the health and longevity enjoyed by the healthiest people around the world.

Despite St. Charles county being ranked first in Health Outcomes and Health Factors in Missouri, there is community health data compiled by our local hospitals that show persistent heath challenges for county residents, including access to health care, obesity, mental health and substance abuse, and dental/oral health.

PfP wants to take action in hopes of helping their citizens enjoy optimal health for a long and happy life. One of the ways they plan on working toward this objective is by potentially establishing a transformative, community-wide health initiative in St. Charles county.

To understand what this initiative hopes to do, it is important to first understand what it might look like. One of the potential models is known as the Blues Zones Health initiative.

Blue Zones are areas where the citizens live longest worldwide. There are currently five worldwide Blue Zones: the Italian island of Sardinia; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica; and an isolated Greek island called Ikaria.

The Blue Zones research team has traveled to those places to find out what it is about these places and these people that allows them to live an average 12 years longer than most.

Now, those researchers have brought that data back and want to apply it to other communities with notable health challenges – communities like St. Charles County.

A transformative health program such as Blue Zones would target community nutrition, fitness and movement, community, spirituality, walkability and work to make changes that encourage healthier living.

In order to determine the feasibility of implementing the Blue Zones health initiative in St. Charles county, PfP and the O’Fallon Chamber of Commerce have conducted preliminary interviews with a cross-section of community leaders; representative from business, nonprofits, civic organizations, religious authorities and more, to determine the level of interest and develop early strategies for supporting those programs.

A survey also has been sent out to St. Charles county residents.

“The questions we’re trying to answer with the study is really ‘is St. Charles county ready for a community health initiative?’” President of SSM St. Joseph Hospital and Partners for Progress partner, Lisle Westscott said.

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