Judges with the “Blue Zones” project — part of an initiative to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation by 2016 — are in the process of visiting 11 of Iowa’s larger cities. The judges will choose just three or four communities to become Blue Zone demonstration sites. The cities selected will be given expert advice on how to improve their residents’ overall health through exercise and proper diets.
Today, judges are in Cedar Rapids, where Mayor Ron Corbett says they’re be meeting with a number city officials, business leaders and residents. “Their key thing here is can a community like Cedar Rapids, or any community, really rally and get behind the Blue Zone concept,” Corbett said. The other finalists, selected from 54 applicants, include Ames, Cedar Falls, Clinton, Davenport, Mason City, Muscatine, Ottumwa, Sioux City, Spencer and Waterloo.
Corbett said there are several reasons why the cities want the Blue Zone designation. “Everyone knows that health care costs continue to skyrocket…they’re so high that some people can’t afford premiums. The best way to get your health care costs down is for everybody to become healthy,” Corbett said. “It’s really important for us to have lower health care costs, not just from an individual stand point, but when we’re trying to recruit businesses here to Cedar Rapids – we can tell them we have the lowest health care costs in the country.”
Iowa’s largest health insurer, Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield, is coordinating the Blue Zones project. Wellmark C.E.O. John Forsyth announced last month that the company is expanding the initiative to include at least 30 communities over five years – up from the original plan to name 10 cities as Blue Zones.
more information here: http://bluezonesproject.com/
by Jill Kasperie (KCRG-TV) and Pat Curtis (Radio Iowa)