Problems with THE BLUE ZONES

August 20, 2009 at 12:16 pm | Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

The problem I have with The Blue Zones is that it is highly unscientific. Dan Buettner may also be guilty of selective reporting. For example, he mentions how the centenarians he has profiled only “rarely” eat meat but causally describes a Costa-Rican centenarian that goes to the butcher every week (and eats red meat at least weekly). The very first chapter, “the truth about living longer”, cautions that there are no true indicators to predict one’s longevity. The rest of the book then describes the attempts to do just that! Except, that fist chapter is never really discounted. Much of the information provided is basic common sense–eat a healthy diet with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, do not smoke, drink in moderation, exercise regularly, etc. That’s good advice to follow but it’s nothing new and it’s likely information that you were already aware of. It also is not proof for living well into your 100s and staying healthy. I took the “online life expectancy test” officially sponsored by Dan Buettner and, despite the fact that I try and eat a very healthy balanced diet and go running roughly 5 times a week, I apparently am only going to live until 77. It was a very unscientific test though so I hold it no credence. Just for fun, though, I plan on taking the test again when the meds I am taking have finally stabilised.

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  1. I read your review and do want to take issue with few things. Though I admit to trying to fold my research into a story driven format the book was carefully fact checked by National Geographic. Indeed, meat is rarely eaten (less than two times per week) in all five Blue Zones and usually far less than that. The information sounds like common sense but only after you’ve read it. If five years of research yielded the finding that you should take high-quality supplements and run marathons to live longer it would sound like common sense too. But that’s not the case.

    The Vitality Compass was the uses CDC Lifetable data and the synthesis of more than 360 peer-reviewed studies.

    In any case, I do appreciate that you read the book and thought enough about it to share it with your readers.

    • I’m very surprised and frankly flattered that you read my “review”, Mr. Buettner, but of course I wouldn’t call it as such. I’ve been dealing with mental illness–more specifically I have a comorbidity of OCD, Asperger’s and depression. I’m slowly but surely getting the treatment that I need but it’s been fatiguing and depressing at times and I often find myself without the energy to do a full review. In all honesty I did enjoy the book and feel that there are many valid and practical points that are wise to follow. But most of this advice is still available from other reputable sources and it was furthermore very discouraging to take the online test only to find out that because I am often lonely I may very well live a shorter life. It may be true, yes, but it’s not encouraging to hear when you’re trying to move forward in life.

      By the way, I like running and competing in half-marathons and what’s wrong with that? Walking is great but it can also be dull. I disliked the heavy discouragement of more heavy cardiovascular exercises that was implied in the book.

  2. […] well. The main reason I’ve decided to start this is because of a book I’ve read called The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner. I found a lot of the book to be utter nonsense but there were some points that […]


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