Blue Zones: why people live longer and healthier in certain regions of the world

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

Please join us for this public lecture presented by Prof Michel Poulain, Professor Emeritus, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium and Senior Researcher at Tallinn University, Estonia.

'BLUE ZONE' is a paradigm developed since 2000 with Dan Buettner, explorer for National Geographic and Giovanni Pes, a Sardinian medical doctor. Centenarians exist worldwide but only in few areas their concentration is found to be exceptionally high and the population could be considered as living longer.  The concept of Blue Zone distinguishes the population longevity from randomly spatially distributed individual longevity.  Why 'Blue zone'?  Simply because when identifying a group of villages on a map of Sardinia where people were living longer, I used a blue marker.

Since 2000, the Blue Zones story gained increasing interest in both media and scientific literature. The identification of a Blue Zone starts by a large process of age validation based on available documentation that are country specific. Thereafter the investigations on population in  Blue Zones aims at understanding their specific lifestyle, nutrition, genetics and, human and physical environmental conditions that might support living longer and better.

Professor Michel Poulain was originally skilled in astrophysics at University of Liège (ULg) and he received a PhD in demography at Université catholique de Louvain (UCL). As demographer, he is specialised in international Migration Statistics and Longevity studies. Currently emeritus professor at UCL, he is also Senior Researcher at the Estonian Institute for Population Studies at Tallinn University (Estonia). He has been President of the Société Belge de Démographie (1984-1990) and later of the Association Internationale des Démographes de Langue Française (AIDELF), (1988-2000).

Since 1989, he contributed to the harmonisation of international migration statistics at the level of European Union and thereafter worldwide with the International Organization of Migration (IOM). Involved in centenarian's studies since 1992 he validated the age of numerous super centenarians including Antonio Todde, Johan Riudavets and Emma Moreno and invalidated the one of Kamato Hongo.

In 2000, he was involved in validation the age of the numerous centenarians in Sardinia in cooperation with Gianni Pes, a Sardinian Medical Doctor. In this framework, he introduced the concept of Blue Zone when identifying an exceptional longevity area in the mountainous part of Sardinia. In two Sardinian villages, Villagrande and Seulo, he demonstrated with colleagues an exceptional situation where men live as long as women do, a unique situation in our modern societies.

Thereafter in cooperation with Dan Buettner, a US writer for National Geographic he identified other Blue Zones in Okinawa, the Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica) and Ikaria (Greece).He is actively involved in the Committee of Age Validation of the International Database on Longevity and in the International Centenarian Consortium.

This lecture is free and open to the public, please click here to register. A reception in the foyer will follow the lecture.