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February 19, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative announced today that Iowa received a score of 62.20 in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®. This score ranks Iowa 16th in the nation.

"It’s important to point out that while Iowa’s ranking has dropped, the actual well-being score for the state has remained virtually unchanged for the last three years," said Jami Haberl, Iowa Healthiest State Initiative Executive Director. "Other states have seen substantial improvement, which has caused Iowa’s rank to lower."

States that are new to the top ten include Alaska, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Texas.

"Iowa’s well-being index score is only 6 tenths of a point away from the top 10, and only 2.5 points lower than number one ranked Alaska," Haberl said.

Iowa’s ranking in each element

Iowa’s highest rank, 9th in the nation, is in the elements of Community and Financial. More specifically Iowa ranks:
  • 5th in "can’t imagine a better community"
  • 5th in "proud of community"
  • 6th in "safe and secure"
  • 6th in "managing money" and "living with means"

When it comes to the element of Purpose, Iowa had a few successes; but there are also opportunities for improvement with an overall ranking of 17th. Iowa ranks ninth in "reaching goals" and in "liking what you do each day" but 24th in "learning new and interesting things each day."

The elements that presented the most opportunities for improvement included Physical, which ranked 36th and Social, which ranked 40th. Within these elements, Iowa had the ninth highest obesity rate and 13th highest smoking rate. Iowa also ranked 47th in “someone encourages you to be healthy" and 49th in “produce consumption."

"While Iowa has made great strides in several areas, there is still a lot of work to be done," said Haberl.  "This summer the Healthiest State Initiative will be launching an assessment tool to help businesses, communities and schools identify opportunities to increase the overall well-being of Iowans."

Cumulative data shows improvement

From 2010 — 2014 Iowa has several areas of improvement that have surpassed the level of changes seen nationally. These include reduced incidence of heart attacks; reduced incidence of high blood pressure; reduced incidence of diabetes; reduced daily worry; and improved satisfaction with the city/area where you live.

"It takes time for communities to be impacted by the changes in policies, social networks, built environments and all the things that go into making communities healthier,” said Wellmark Executive Vice President and Healthiest State Initiative Board Member Laura Jackson. “The Blues Zones Project in Iowa is a great example. Early results from the communities that have achieved Blue Zones Community certification show directional improvement."

The Well-Being Index is the official measurement tool of the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative and the Blue Zones Project®. Wellmark is sponsoring the Blue Zones Project in Iowa, which is a centerpiece of the Healthiest State Initiative. The Blue Zones Project in Iowa represents the largest community well-being improvement initiative ever launched. The project is based on Blue Zones principles gathered from places around the world where people naturally live longer, happier and more productive lives with lower rates of chronic disease and a higher quality of life.

Six communities including Algona, Cedar Falls, Mason City, Muscatine, Spencer and Waterloo have achieved Blue Zones Community® certification. Nine more are working toward certification in 2015. More than 209,000 Iowans statewide have pledged their support for the Blue Zones Project, and all Iowa businesses can access resources and tools online at www.bluezonesproject.comExternal Site to become involved.

"Other states have realized the importance of well-being for its citizens," Jackson said. "Iowans have the tools available to them to become the Healthiest State, but we have a lot of work ahead of us."

To access the “State of American Well-Being: 2014 State Well-Being Rankings,” visit Site.