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Blue Zones Project™ Demonstration Sites Named
January 30, 2013

DES MOINES, Iowa and NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) announced today six additional communities have been named as Blue Zones Project™ demonstration sites in Iowa. The communities are:


Cedar Rapids Muscatine
Iowa City Oskaloosa
Marion Sioux City


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 Leedle, 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.”


“Cedar Rapids is thrilled to be named a Blue Zones Project demonstration site and I want to thank the many dedicated leaders who spearheaded this effort,” said Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett. “The resources and expertise we’ll receive as a demonstration site will help us take the next step towards a healthier Cedar Rapids. I encourage all residents of Cedar Rapids and the other selected communities to help us by taking the first step towards personal well-being and visiting to pledge your support for your community and explore the tools and resources available.”


The six communities submitted applications in August in the second and final selection round for large communities. While this was the last opportunity for communities with populations greater than 10,000 to apply, communities across Iowa will continue to implement Blue Zones Project principles within their community. Additionally, all Iowans and all Iowa businesses can access resources and tools online at  Additional participation opportunities for communities with populations less than 10,000 will be announced in 2013.


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 we spend our time. The Blue Zones Project is based on Blue Zones principles developed by Dan 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, the first-ever daily assessment of U.S. residents' health and well-being. Brought to Iowa through an innovative sponsorship by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, in collaboration with Healthways, the Blue Zones Project initiative encourages all Iowa communities to change their built environments to make the healthy choice, the easy choice. 


Click here for a map of all demonstration site communities.


About Wellmark

Wellmark, Inc. ( does business as Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. Wellmark and its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, including Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc., insure or pay health benefit claims for more than 2 million members in Iowa and South Dakota. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota, and Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc. are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.


About Healthways

Healthways is the leading provider of specialized, comprehensive solutions to help millions of people maintain or improve their health and well-being and, as a result, reduce overall costs. Healthways’ solutions are designed to help healthy individuals stay healthy, mitigate or eliminate lifestyle risk factors that can lead to disease and optimize care for those with chronic illness. Our proven, evidence-based programs provide highly specific and personalized interventions for each individual in a population, irrespective of age or health status, and are delivered to consumers by phone, mail, internet and face-to-face interactions, both domestically and internationally. Healthways also provides a national, fully accredited complementary and alternative Health Provider Network and a national Fitness Center Network, offering convenient access to individuals who seek health services outside of, and in conjunction with, the traditional healthcare system. For more information, please visit www.healthways.comContact: Bruce Middlebrooks, Healthways Communications, (615) 614-4463,


About Blue Zones

Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better. The Company's work is rooted in the New York Times best-selling books The Blue Zones and Thrive—both published by National Geographic books.  In 2009, Blue Zones applied the tenets of the books to Albert Lea, MN and successfully raised life expectancy and lowered health care costs for city workers by 40%.  Blue Zones takes a systematic, environmental approach to well-being which focuses on optimizing policy, building design, social networks, and the built environment. The Blue Zones Project is based on this innovative approach.  For more information, visit


Contact Wellmark Media Relations

Traci McBee
Phone: 515-376-4338


Teresa Roof
Phone: 515-376-5869


1331 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309-2901

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