Dan Buettner

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Dan Buettner
Buettner in October 2010
Born (1960-06-18) June 18, 1960 (age 62)[citation needed]

Dan Buettner (born June 18, 1960)[not verified in body] is an American National Geographic Fellow and New York Times-bestselling author. He is an explorer, educator, author, producer, storyteller and public speaker.[not verified in body] He co-produced an Emmy Award-winning documentary,[not verified in body] and holds three Guinness records for endurance cycling.[not verified in body] Buettner is the founder of Blue Zones, LLC.


Early life[edit]

Dan Buettner was born on June 18, 1960 in Saint Paul, Minnesota.[citation needed] After graduating from the College of St. Thomas in 1984,[citation needed] Buettner took a year to explore Spain before taking a job with National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. to recruit celebrity participation in a fund-raising croquet tournament with journalist George Plimpton.[citation needed]


Buettner graduated from the University of St. Thomas in 1982. Soon thereafter he went to work for The Washington Post columnist Remar Sutton and Paris Review Editor George Plimpton to organize the National Public Radio’s Celebrity Croquet Tournament.[1]

Early expeditions[edit]

In 1986, Buettner and his brother launched the first of several Guinness World Records for transcontinental cycling .[citation needed] "Americastrek" traversed 15,536 miles from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina; the 1990 "Sovietrek" followed the 45th parallel around the world, covered 12,888 miles, as Buettner recounted the trip in his book Sovietrek.[full citation needed] In 1992, the Buettner brothers team-cycled from Bizerte, Tunisia, to Cape Agulhas, South Africa, "Africatrek" with cyclist Dr. Chip Thomas; the team covered 11,885 miles over eight months.[citation needed] Buettner’s book, Africatrek: A Journey by Bicycle through Africa, won the Young Reader Award from Scientific American.[citation needed]


In February 1995, Buettner developed a genre of exploration that enabled online audiences to direct teams of experts to solve mysteries. His MayaQuest [USA Today CITATION] expedition sought to help solve the mystery of the 9th century Maya Collapse. Carrying laptop computers and a newly demilitarized satellite dish the expedition interacted with classrooms that helped determine exploration route and findings. Hamline University’s Center for Global Environmental Education created a framework for schools to use the expedition as a multi-disciplinary teaching themes. Both Africatrek and MayaQuest were adapted into educational computer games by MECC in the late 1990s.


In 1995, Buettner founded Earthtreks, Inc. to manage his expeditions.[citation needed] He sold the company to Classroom Connect in 1997 but continued to lead expeditions until 2002.[citation needed] His team retraced Darwin’s route in the Galapagos and followed Marco Polo’s trail on the Silk Road, explored the collapse of the Anasazi Civilization and traced the origins of Western Civilization.[citation needed]

When Buettner realized that adults were also following his expeditions, he approached National Geographic with the idea to research longevity hotspots and was given support to move forward.[citation needed] He then met with Robert Kane,[citation needed] as of 2016 the Director, Center on Aging, at the University of Minnesota,[2] who introduced him to demographers and scientists at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) in Washington, DC.[citation needed] Buettner was awarded a grant from the National Institute of Aging.[citation needed] Previous research identified the longevity hotspots of Sardinia, Okinawa, and Loma Linda.[citation needed]

In 2003, Buettner began leading trips to these destinations while collaborating with a variety of experts, including anthropologists, historians, dietitians, and geneticists, "to reverse engineer longevity".[This quote needs a citation] His early trips focused on Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; and Monterrey, Nuevo Leon and Loma Linda, California.[3]

Blue Zones[edit]

In 2003, Buettner formed Blue Zones LLC.[citation needed] Buettner reported his findings of communities with increased longevity, identified as blue zones, in his cover story for National Geographic Magazine's November 2005 edition, "Secrets of Long Life."[4]

In 2006, under aegis of National Geographic, Buettner collaborated with Michel Poulain and Costa Rican demographer Dr. Luis Rosero-Bixby to identify a fourth longevity hotspot in the Nicoya Peninsula. In 2008, again working with Poulain, he found a fifth longevity hotspot on the Greek Island of Ikaria.[citation needed] In April 2008, Buettner released a book on his findings, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest, through National Geographic Books. It became a New York Times Best Seller and resulted in interviews for Buettner on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Dr. Oz Show, and Anderson Cooper 360, among other national media.[citation needed]

In September 2009, Buettner gave a TED talk on the topic, titled "How to live to be 100+", which, as of this date,[when?] has over two million views.[5][third-party source needed] In October 2010, he released the book Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way, largely based on research taking a data-based approach to identify the statistically happiest regions of the happiest countries on Earth.[according to whom?] He argues that creating lasting happiness is only achievable through optimizing the social and physical environments.[6]

In April 2015, Buettner published The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World's Healthiest People which listed Ikaria (in Greece), Okinawa (Japan), Sardinia (Italy), Loma Linda (California), and Costa Rica as the places with top longevity.[7] It became a New York Times Best Seller.[8] The book was featured on the cover of Parade, and Buettner was interviewed extensively on national media.[citation needed]

In 2019, Buettner and National Geographic photograph David McLain revisited all of the Blue Zones to study diet; based on this, Buettner and Mclain wrote Blue Zones Kitchen.[full citation needed][citation needed] In 2020, Blue Zones LLC was acquired by the Adventist Health System.[9]

AARP/Blue Zones Vitality Project[edit]

In 2008, inspired by Finland’s North Karelia Project,[10][third-party source needed] Buettner designed a plan to apply his Blue Zones principles to an American town.[citation needed] He auditioned five cities and chose Albert Lea, Minnesota for the AARP/Blue Zones Vitality Project, where he believed the key to success involved focusing on the ecology of health—creating a healthy environment rather than relying on individual behaviors.[citation needed]

Walter Willett, chair of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, found the results[clarification needed] "stunning".[11] As a whole, the community showed an 80% increase in walking and biking; 49% decrease in city worker’s healthcare claims, and 4% reduction in smoking.[citation needed] The community shed 12,000 pounds, walked 75 million steps, and added three years to their average life expectancy.[citation needed] City officials reported a 40% drop in health care costs.[citation needed]

Blue Zones Project[edit]

In 2010, Buettner partnered with Healthways, a global health and well-being company, to scale the Blue Zones city work under the rubric of Blue Zones Projects.[12][third-party source needed] The Blue Zones Project team partnered Beach Cities Health District in Southern California to apply Blue Zone principles to three California communities—Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Manhattan Beach. Their work occasioned the lowering of BMI by 14% and smoking by 30%, as well as increasing healthy eating and exercise.[13]

In 2011, the Blue Zones Project joined forces with Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield to deliver the Blue Zones Project, across the State of Iowa as the cornerstone of the Governor’s Healthiest State Initiative and is at work in 18 cities there to effect change.[citation needed] In 2013, projects began in Fort Worth, Texas and on Hawaii.[where?][14][15][third-party source needed]

In 2014, work began in Naples, Florida, South Bend, Indiana and Klamath Falls, Oregon.[12][third-party source needed] In 2018, Klamath Falls was recognized by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) as the "Culture of Health" prize winner[16]

Public speaking[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Buettner and American model Cheryl Tiegs ended a relationship on January 1, 2009.[21]


  • Buettner, Dan (1994). Sovietrek: A Journey by Bicycle Across Russia. Lerner Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8225-2950-5.
  • Buettner, Dan (1996). Maya Quest: Interactive Expedition. Douglas Mason (illustrator). Onion Press. ISBN 0-9640334-2-9.
  • Buettner, Dan (1997). Africatrek: A Journey by Bicycle Through Africa. Lerner Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8225-2951-3.
  • Buettner, Dan. (February 25, 2002) Scary Canoe Stories. The Rake.
  • Buettner, Dan (2008). The Blue Zone: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest. National Geographic Books. ISBN 978-1-4262-0274-2.
  • Buettner, Dan (2010). Thrive. Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way. National Geographic Books. ISBN 978-1-4262-0818-8.
  • Buettner, Dan (2012). The Blue Zones, Second Edition: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest. National Geographic Books. ISBN 978-1426209482.
  • Buettner, Dan (2015). The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World's Healthiest People. National Geographic Books. ISBN 978-1426211928.
  • Buettner, Dan (May 2015) Want Great Longevity and Health? It Takes a Village. "The secrets of the world’s longest-lived people include community, family, exercise and plenty of beans." The Wall Street Journal
  • Buettner, Dan, (2017). The blue zones of happiness: lessons from the world's happiest people. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic ISBN 978-1-4262-1848-4.
  • Buettner, Dan (2019). The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic. ISBN 978-1426220135.
  • Buettner, Dan (2021). The Blue Zones Challenge: A 4-Week Plan for a Longer Better Life. National Geographic Books. ISBN 978-1426221941.


  1. ^ Carlyle, Erin. "Dan Buettner's Blue Zones Teach Nine Secrets of a Longer Life." City Pages. N.p., 3 Feb. 2010. Web. 24 June 2015.[full citation needed]
  2. ^ "Faculty Expertise in Aging and Long-Term Care". Sph.umn.edu. 2013-12-17. Archived from the original on 2016-06-22. Retrieved 2016-07-27.[better source needed]
  3. ^ Potter, Ned. (January 18, 2007). Finding the keys to longevity. ABC News. Accessed September 14, 2007.[full citation needed]
  4. ^ Buettner, D. (Nov. 2005) "On Assignment—The Secret of Longevity," National Geographic, Accessed September 14, 2007.[full citation needed]
  5. ^ Buettner, Dan (6 January 2010), How to live to be 100+, retrieved 2017-03-08
  6. ^ NPR Staff (November 28, 2010). "How To 'Thrive': Dan Buettner's Secrets Of Happiness". NPR - Weekend Edition.
  7. ^ Buettner, Dan (April 1, 2015). "New Book: Secrets to Long Life". National Geographic Traveler. National Geographic.
  8. ^ "Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous Books - Best Sellers - Books - April 26, 2015 - the New York Times". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "Adventist Health acquires community health planning venture". bizjournals.
  10. ^ Buettner, Dan. "The Finnish Town That Went on a Diet." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 07 Apr. 2015. Web. 24 June 2015.
  11. ^ Underwood, Anne. "How Public Policy Can Prevent Heart Disease." NewsWeek. NewsWeek, 2 Apr. 2010. Web. 24 June 2015.
  12. ^ a b "Blue Zones Project". Communities.bluezonesproject.com. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  13. ^ "Blue Zones Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach health initiative". Easyreadernews.com. November 2013. Archived from the original on 2016-04-22. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  14. ^ "Blue Zones Project - Fort Worth". Fortworth.bluezonesproject.com. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  15. ^ "Blue Zones Project - Hawaii". Hawaii.bluezonesproject.com. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  16. ^ "2018 RWJF culture of health prize winner". Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 18 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Press Release: President Clinton Announces Program for Second Annual Health Matters Conference". Clinton Foundation. 2013-01-09. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  18. ^ "The World We Build- Dan Buettner Zeitgeist *Americas 2012". YouTube. 2012-10-16. Archived from the original on 2021-12-14. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  19. ^ "Dan Buettner | Speaker | TED".
  20. ^ "TEDxTC | TED".
  21. ^ "Turns out, Tiegs and Buettner now live in Splitsville - StarTribune.com". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on 2016-07-25. Retrieved 2017-06-10.

Further reading[edit]

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