The Healthiest State Initiative is holding its “Taking Back Our Health” conference in Des Moines today, launching various efforts to try to improve the health of Iowans.
Jami Haberl, executive director of the Healthiest State Initiative, says they’re continuing to work toward making Iowa the healthiest state in the nation.
“We have sold out the event at 260 attendees, people from all over the state of Iowa,” Haberl says, “that includes executives from businesses, as well as individuals who do wellness programs, and community people as well as from schools.”
Several new initiatives will be announced at the conference that are designed to get Iowans off the couch — and in the case of one program, into the dentist’s chair. “The ‘Get Your Bib On’ campaign encourages dental health and getting out to visit your dentist,” Haberl says. “We’re also launching The Assessment Tool which is an opportunity for schools, workplaces and communities to assess and see where they’re at in terms of health and wellbeing and what they can do to improve and help us move forward to become the healthiest state in the nation.”
Back in February, the Gallup Healthways survey, which is a key national test of a state’s wellness, ranked Iowa at 16th place, down from 10th a year ago. While a disappointment, Haberl says Iowa’s numbers were fairly steady but other states improved more quickly.
“We are all recognizing that health and wellbeing is really important to our economic viability so other states are doing things as well and were able to jump a couple of spots,” Haberl says. “Really, overall, our scores stayed the same so we haven’t necessarily declined in health but we aren’t moving up as fast as some of the other states.”
Today’s conference is being held at Des Moines University. The next big event is scheduled for October 7th with the 5th annual Healthiest State Walk. This year, the walks will be done in conjunction with fire drills for schools and businesses.