Office of the Governor of Iowa

Governor Branstad

First Blue Zones Project™ Demonstration Sites Announced as Part of Healthiest State Initiative

May 9, 2012

Today, the first four Iowa Blue Zones Project demonstration sites were announced at a news conference in Des Moines. The Blue Zones Project is the cornerstone of the Healthiest State Initiative, a statewide effort to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation by 2016, as measured by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®.

The Blue Zones Project, a collaboration between Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Healthways, is a community-by-community, business-by-business movement to help Iowans change their built environments. Governor Branstad announced the first four of ten large community (population greater than 10,000) demonstration sites at the Wellmark headquarters in downtown Des Moines. The communities are:

Cedar Falls

Mason City



The Blue Zones Project is based on the book, “The Blue Zones — Lessons For Living Longer, From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest,written by author Dan Buettner, who also spoke at the press conference. Working with National Geographic, Mr. Buettner found “Blue Zones,” or parts of the world where people live the longest, happiest lives and identified practices in those areas which other communities can follow to improve their well-being.

Governor Branstad said, “I’m extremely proud of the communities selected to become demonstration sites. The leaders in Cedar Falls, Mason City, Spencer and Waterloo have shown they are ready to make substantial changes to improve the environments where they live, work and play.” He added, “I am awed by the passion and commitment of all the 11 finalist communities, and am grateful for everyone’s tremendous efforts and continued commitment to help transform Iowa into a place where people live longer, healthier lives.”

Leaders in the four communities announced today have demonstrated the greatest passion, interest, and ability to bring people together for change and will now receive assistance from international experts to turn their community into a Blue Zone Community. All Iowans can access resources and tools through online resources at

For more information on the Blue Zones Project, visit