I want to echo the wonderful comments made about the Blue Zones Project in the recent op-ed by Dr. Ann Kulze. I, too, am a physician champion for the BZP of Charleston. This is an evidence-based, community-wide initiative that promotes and encourages the healthy choice to be the easy choice.
Charleston now seeks to become Blue Zones certified over the next four or five years. In combination with a few experts from the BZP, along with a core of local employees and thousands of volunteers, we hope to see Charlestonians of all ages and socioeconomic types making healthy choices daily.
As an emergency department physician, I see the consequences of poor, less-informed choices every day. I see a disproportionate number of diabetics, hypertensive patients, those with elevated cholesterol, those who smoke, and those who range from overweight to morbidly obese. Frequently, these are all in the same patient, and the consequences of the diseases are devastating. I see the BZP as an opportunity to stem this tide.
The BZP seeks to influence and modify behaviors through the education of folks within a 10-mile radius of their home. Places where we live, work, worship and socialize.
I’ve had my own epiphany over the last few years. As I moved into the obese weight category, with a family history of two parents who died in their 60s with hypertension and diabetes mellitus, I recognized something had to change.
I’ve since lost almost 50 pounds, began exercising three or four times per week and have worked to make healthier choices most of the time. I now want to share that with others in need. BZP is exactly the tool to help educate the community to make these healthy choices — and they need not be expensive.
This project is intended to enhance all of the wonderful efforts in Charleston. I see the BZP as an umbrella that coordinates all of these individual initiatives, thereby avoiding duplication. Further, it is projected to result in reduced health care claims and lost productivity costing some $250 million over 10 years.
The community is ready for this, and I will do everything I can do to make it a reality.
Patrick Kelly, M.D.
Roper Emergency Physicians
Medical Society of S.C.