Prof. Michel Poulain

Michel Poulain was originally skilled in astrophysics at University of Liège (Belgium), he received a PhD in demography at UCLouvain (Belgium). As demographer, he is specialized in Longevity studies. Currently emeritus professor at UCLouvain, 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). Involved in centenarian’s studies since 1992 he is active member of the International Database on Longevity (IDL) and the International Centenarian Consortium (ICC). In 2000, he was involved in validation the age of the numerous centenarians in Sardinia and introduced the concept of Longevity Blue Zone as area where the population experiences an exceptional longevity and includes a large number of centenarians. So far, he identified 5 Blue Zones: Ogliastra in Sardinia, Okinawa in Japan, Nicoya in Costa Rica, Ikaria in Greece and more recently Martinique, the French Oversea Department.       

Keynote Lecture

The Blue Zones: a model to live longer and better

Michel Poulain, Emeritus Professor UCLouvain (Belgium), Senior Researcher Tallinn University (Estonia)

A Longevity Blue Zone (BZ) is a delimited area where the population born in this place is proved to live significantly longer compared to populations elsewhere in the same country. It is basically a demographic concept and the first step for identifying a BZ is the validation of the age of the oldest olds to assess the level of population longevity. The BZ is a area where the population shares the same lifestyle and environment so that the BZ will bring the best opportunity to search for potential longevity determinants. As such, the basic elements to identify a BZ are only related to demography and geography whereas the genetic, biomedical, nutritional, socio-economic and psychological factors are coming ex post as potential determinants to explain the exceptional longevity observed in the pre-determined BZ.

The search for common longevity determinants in the different BZ’s is just beginning. Quantitative and qualitative surveys are currently under development in a comparative way for Sardinia and Ikaria, involving biomedical and behavioural aspects as well as genetic and epigenetic background. As such the current scientific investigations on BZ’s oldest olds are very close to the viewpoint of the lifestyle medicine. More about the BZ and on-going scientific investigations can be found in the following website