Four Iowa Communities Selected As First Blue Zones Project™ Demonstration Sites

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield chairman and CEO, John Forsyth, and Healthways President and CEO, Ben R. Leedle, Jr., today joined with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Blue Zones ® founder, Dan Buettner, to introduce Cedar Falls, Mason City, Spencer and Waterloo as the first Blue Zones Project™ demonstration site communities in Iowa.

The selected communities will receive assistance from national 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.

Governor Branstad said, “I’m extremely proud of the communities selected to become demonstration sites. The leaders in these communities have shown they are ready to make substantial changes to improve the environments where they live, work and play. Communities will share their experiences and successes with other communities in an effort to transform all of Iowa into a place where people live longer, healthier lives.”

The Blue Zones Project is based on Blue Zones principles developed by Buettner and is the centerpiece of the Healthiest State Initiative to make Iowa the healthiest state by 2016 as measured by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index ®. Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better lives by taking a systematic, environmental approach to well-being, which focuses on optimizing policy, social networks and the built environments where people spend their time.

Wellmark’s Forsyth said, “The enthusiasm and passion of Iowa communities to improve the overall health of our state is beyond exciting, and I’d like to congratulate the people of Cedar Falls, Mason City, Spencer and Waterloo. They recognize that by making comprehensive changes that address overall well-being, they are leading the way toward making Iowa the healthiest state in the nation.”

The progress of the demonstration site communities will also be measured using the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the first-ever daily assessment of U.S. residents' health and well-being.

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