Benton County currently has no plans to become a Blue Zone


Cat Smith

An elderly couple to the side of a map of Oregon, with Klamath County highlighted in blue to represent its Blue Zone status. The unofficial term of a blue zone means that the area has a high quality of life resulting in residents in the area living longer lives.

Jordyn Gregory, News Contributor

While there may be rumors that Benton County is considering becoming a Blue Zone, at this time they are not, however they still have potential to earn that title. 

A Blue Zone is an unofficial term — based on the Blue Zones organization — that is given to areas that have some of the world’s oldest people, usually due to that area’s high quality of life. 

According to the Healthy Klamath’s website, the Blue Zones Project aims to change communities positively by creating a healthy environment that will naturally lead to residents making healthier choices, which results in a longer life span. 

Sara Hartstein, Healthy Communities Division Manager for Benton County, says that while Benton County is not currently exploring the possibility of becoming a Blue Zone, they still “embrace the fact that where we live, work, learn and play matters to our health.”

Despite the fact that Benton County is not currently aiming to become a Blue Zone, Klamath Falls is still a good example for Benton County to follow, Hartstein said. 

Benton County’s most recent plan, the 2018-2022 Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), claims that while Benton County already ranks high on most standard health indicators, there are still problems in the community, mostly having to do with an unevenly distributed resources due to socioeconomic status. In order to combat this issue, the Benton CHIP focuses on four priority health issues: 

  • Healthy food systems 
  • Housing, transportation, and development 
  • Mental well-being and community resiliency 
  • Communicable disease

According to Hartstein, the Benton County Health Department is currently working with other local organizations to complete a regional health assessment, which will help them decide what the priorities of the regional health improvement plan are in the next three to five years. 

Addressing health inequities through policy, systems and environmental changes can benefit all communities, not just populations experiencing poor health outcomes,” Hartstein said on who would benefit the most from changes to the health improvement plan.

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