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Beach cities are getting healthier, data show

January 30, 2013 | 12:06 pm

Morning exercise at Madison Elementary School in Redondo Beach
A comprehensive effort to improve the health of residents living in the beach cities is doing just that, according to new data released Wednesday.

Beginning in 2010, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach started making changes in homes, workplaces and schools to improve the well-being of people living in the region. They revamped restaurant menus, started "walking school buses" for children and created neighborhood gardens. Hermosa Beach passed an anti-smoking ordinance and the beach cities began working on adding bike lanes.

The changes lowered obesity and smoking rates, while increasing the number of residents who exercise and eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, according to Gallup, which is conducting well-being index surveys to document the impact of the Blue Zones Project.

Between 2010 and 2012, 3.6% fewer residents reported that they smoked and 5.6% more residents reported doing regular exercise, Gallup found. The project has had an impact on emotional health as well, with 4.2% fewer beach cities residents reporting feeling sad than in 2010, according to the research.

“It is moving the needle in the ways that are literally improving the well-being of thousands of residents within the beach cities,” said Dan Witters, principal at Gallup. “They are seeing their lives a lot differently today than they were two years ago.”

The changes will translate into less chronic disease and more cost savings, Witters said. The results are being presented Wednesday night at the Beach Cities Health District meeting.

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-- Anna Gorman 

Photo: Children participate in a morning exercises at Madison Elementary School in Redondo Beach in 2011 as part of a program that promotes healthy living. Credit: Christina House / For The Times

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