Fort Worth moves up in ranking of healthy cities

Well being

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price is well-known for her bicycling and for her emphasis on increasing the health of the city’s residents.

The emphasis may be paying off, as the recent Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index ranks Fort Worth 31st out of 156 metropolitan areas across the United States.

In 2013, Fort Worth was ranked 185th out of 190 reported metro areas. In 2017, behind the efforts of Price and her team, the city had climbed to 58th out of 186.

“This is an amazing transformation in just a few years, and it happened because our community is committed to prioritizing health and wellness,” Price said. “Working together, we have helped make Fort Worth an even more attractive place for businesses to relocate and for individuals and families to live, work and play. I am confident Fort Worth will continue to be one of the healthiest cities in the country.”

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And the results could continue to improve as Price was recently elected to a record-setting fifth term as the city’s mayor. Having a healthy citizenship remains at the top of her list of priorities.

The ranking is based on a new comparison of updated metropolitan statistical area (MSA) data and the latest Gallup survey places Fort Worth on par with the Austin/Round Rock area.

Fort Worth has seen dramatic improvement in career, social, financial, community and physical health — the five essential areas of well-being measured by the Well-Being Index (WBI). While much of the nation continues to see a decline in well-being, Fort Worth’s overall WBI score rose from 58.8 in 2014 to 62.5 in 2018. Between 2014 and 2018, the national WBI score dropped from 61.6 to 61.2, after hitting 62.1 in 2016.

“Fort Worth’s latest jump in well-being, as the U.S. continues to decline, securely establishes it as a best practice example of what a community can accomplish when it sustains a focused commitment to well-being,” said Dan Witters, principal at Gallup.

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“The work of Blue Zones Project in Fort Worth is likely playing an important role in the improving well-being culture and associated outcomes of the community.”

Blue Zones Project is a community-led well-being improvement initiative that works to shape the environment and daily routines to mirror lifestyles of the world’s healthiest people. The effort launched in 2014, coinciding with the well-being improvements measured in the WBI survey.

Fort Worth became certified as a Blue Zones Community in November 2018 by engaging individuals, worksites, schools, grocery stores, restaurants, faith-based organizations and other groups in a commitment to healthier practices.

“Blue Zones Project has had a dramatic impact on well-being in this community, and this ranking reflects that change,” said Barclay Berdan, CEO of Texas Health, primary sponsor of the Blue Zones Project.

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Blue Zones Project helped create more walkable routes to schools, organized community groups in efforts to provide fellowship and encourage healthy behaviors, supported the development of a park and playground in one of the city’s more underprivileged neighborhoods, tweaked grocery store layouts to prominently feature healthy snacks and drinks, worked with area businesses to enhance employee health, and helped the city create new policies that promote well-being, among other efforts.

Texas leads the nation in purpose well-being with two communities in the top five for the element in the survey — McAllen and El Paso — mirroring 2015-2016 results. Naples; Lynchburg, Virginia; and Salinas, California, were other top communities for purpose well-being.