REDONDO BEACH, Calif. (March 14, 2018) -- 2017 was a rather challenging year for well-being across the United States. The just-released Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index (WBI), which polls adults nationwide on social, purpose, financial, community and physical well-being, reports 21 states experienced a decline in well-being last year, zero states improved, and stress and worry reached the highest national levels since 2009.
Then there’s the outlier – the Southern California hamlet of Hermosa, Manhattan and Redondo Beach, otherwise known as the Beach Cities. In 17 measurable metrics, ranging from obesity and smoking to exercise and blood pressure/cholesterol, the WBI found that the Beach Cities (with a WBI score of 65.8) outdistanced the rest of California (62.3) and the U.S. (61.5), “which is a pretty significant difference,” says Dan Witters, research director of the Well-Being Index, who’s managed the WBI since 2009. “This isn’t simply statistically significant, but meaningfully large.”
The 2017 WBI measured 186 metro areas across the country. The three Beach Cities, which are evaluated as part of the overall LA metro region, would rank third nationally if assessed as a standalone metro area. Actually, if Manhattan Beach was evaluated as a city, it would rank second (behind Naples, Florida), and Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach would be tied for fourth in the U.S.
“Beach Cities has made some impressive improvements since 2010, when we first started measuring the area,” Witters says. “Community leaders have made a commitment to wellness and are dedicated to it for the long haul.”
One variable contributing to the area’s well-being is the adoption of the Blue Zones Project, a national program designed to help communities transform their environments to support healthy lifestyle behaviors. In April 2016, the Beach Cities became the first California community – and the largest in the U.S. – to earn Blue Zones Community certification.
“We’ve made a major investment in health literacy and public policy,” says Tom Bakaly, CEO for Beach Cities Health District, which focuses residents on wellness and prevention, not sickness, and administers the Blue Zones Project locally.
“Our preventive health emphasis includes more than 30 community-focused programs, ranging from the Blue Zones Project and promoting physical activity to health services for children, adults and seniors. As the WBI shows, Beach Cities Health District is making a substantial difference in classrooms, homes and workplaces throughout the South Bay.”