Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) announced today that six additional communities have been named as Blue Zones Project™ demonstration sites in Iowa. The communities are:
These communities join Cedar Falls, Mason City, Spencer and Waterloo, which were named in May 2012, as the first Blue Zones Project™ demonstration site communities in Iowa with populations greater than 10,000 citizens. Nine additional communities with populations less than 10,000 citizens were named demonstration sites in October 2012 for a total of 19 communities currently working formally towards Blue Zones Community™ certification.
“We are thrilled to announce the final six demonstration sites for the Blue Zones Project in Iowa,” said Ben R. Leedle, Jr., Healthways President and CEO. “The commitment to improved well-being exhibited by all of the communities participating in the selection process has been inspiring, and we look forward to working with the demonstration sites to transform the lives of their residents through the application of Blue Zones ® principles.”
The selected communities will receive assistance from experts to develop and implement a Blueprint for making permanent environmental, social and policy changes that transition people into healthier behaviors that can lead to longer, happier lives. Three of the communities (Cedar Rapids, Muscatine and Sioux City) will begin this work immediately, while three (Iowa City, Marion and Oskaloosa) will begin their work in 2014. The progress of all the large demonstration site communities will be measured using the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index ®, the first-ever daily assessment of U.S. residents’ health and well-being.“Seeing the Blue Zones Project take hold in Iowa is incredibly exciting, and the applications we received from all the communities demonstrate the great work being done across the state to improve well-being,” said Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield Chairman and CEO, John Forsyth. “The six selected communities are the next step in creating a tipping point where the entire state experiences improved health and they will be an example for all Iowans.”