Iowa has cracked the top 10 in a listing of the healthiest states in the nation. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index for 2012 shows Iowa ranked #9, up from a #16 ranking in 2011. Doctor Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, calls it “very exciting” news.
“But, we also want to temper that with reality and know this is just one snap shot, in time,” Miller-Meeks said. “We want to continue to pursue initiatives to increase the health and well-being of all Iowans and we still have a lot of work to do.” The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index involved a survey of more than 4,600 Iowans.
The 2012 results showed more Iowans issued positive marks about their “work environment” compared to 2011. “Given the amount of time that people are spending at their work place, that was a very important perimeter in which to move forward,” Miller-Meeks said.
In August 2011, Governor Terry Branstad set a goal to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation by 2016. As part of the initiative, Des Moines based Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield launched the Blue Zones Project – which provides expert assistance to cities to develop strategies to improve the health of local residents.
Miller-Meeks expects results of that effort will starting showing up in next year’s Well-Being Index. “We think just having a statewide conversation about health and well-being helps to move us forward and propel us,” Miller-Meeks said.
Hawaii topped the Well-Being Index for third consecutive year in 2012. Colorado, Minnesota, Utah and Vermont rounded out the top five.