Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Healthways, Inc. (NASDAQ: HWAY), and Blue Zones, LLC, today announced that Fairfield, Iowa, has been named a certified Blue Zones Community®. Certification recognizes Fairfield’s community transformation through successful implementation of the Blue Zones Project®, a first-of-its-kind population health program that brings the world’s best practices in food policy, built environment, purpose and social networking to participating cities.
Brought to Iowa through an innovative sponsorship by Wellmark in collaboration with Healthways and Blue Zones, the Blue Zones Project initiative encourages all Iowa communities to optimize their surroundings to make the healthy choice the easy choice. The Blue Zones Project is the centerpiece of Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative, a privately led, publicly endorsed initiative intended to inspire Iowans and communities throughout the state to boost well-being.
Community leaders, volunteers and organizations throughout Fairfield have been working to achieve certification status since October 2012, when the community was named a Blue Zones Project demonstration site. As a result of its efforts, Fairfield can celebrate the following outcomes:
The 16-mile trail system circling the city has continued to expand with tree plantings and the addition of a pedestrian and cycling bridge. Daily usage of the trail increased by 180 users.
Brain Breaks, Brain Button, Brain Gym, Pound and a Walking School Bus, all programs focusing on physical movement, are getting nearly 1,000 students moving. In addition, more than 130 students participated in the Farm to School program, helping to grow 1,000 tomato and pepper plants.
Designated worksites in Fairfield have led by example. A remodel of Iowa State Bank’s fitness facility doubled usage. Agri-Industrial Plastics reports tobacco usage dropping from 33 percent to 18 percent following adoption of a tobacco-free campus policy.
Local restaurant Crepe Escape offers crepes in small sizes to those who prefer a smaller portion. The half-sized sandwich option at Yummy’s makes up more than half of all sandwich sales. Revelations Café now offers fresh fruit as the default side dish.
Local grocery stores created Blue Zones checkout lanes, promote Blue Zones foods in end-cap displays, created Blue Zones parking spaces, and designated space in shopping carts for fruits and vegetables. Hy-Vee is increasing shelf space for water by 50 percent.
“From the outset of the governor’s announcement of the Healthiest State initiative and the collaboration with Wellmark and Healthways to implement Blue Zones Project in Iowa communities, I knew that Fairfield would rise to the challenge. We are so fortunate to have a foundation of well-being initiatives and infrastructure within our community, and the work we did to meet the certification to become a Blue Zones Community strengthened our focus on doing even more,” said Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy. “I applaud the businesses, schools, restaurants, groceries and individuals who did the work to qualify our community. I am proud of the great team of leaders we have in the community who made this possible. We have much to be grateful for with this accomplishment.” “Fairfield has embraced transformational environmental change through Blue Zones Project and has begun to see progress,” said Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner. “We applaud the community’s efforts and look forward to the continued focus on well-being improvement.”
Fairfield achieved Blue Zones Community status after reaching the following key milestones, all of which are required improvement goals for Blue Zones Project demonstration communities to receive certification:
⚫ Fifty percent of the top 20 identified worksites became designated Blue Zones Worksites®.
⚫ Twenty-five percent of schools became designated Blue Zones Schools®.
⚫ Twenty-five percent of restaurants became designated Blue Zones Restaurants.
⚫ Twenty-five percent of grocery stores became designated Blue Zones Grocery Stores®.
⚫ Twenty percent of citizens have committed to the Blue Zones Project and completed at least one well-being improvement action.
⚫ The community has completed the Blue Zones Community Policy® bundle.
“We commend the citizens of Fairfield for working together toward this significant achievement,” said Laura Jackson, Wellmark executive vice president. “The community has committed to making well-being a way of life and has set a great example for Iowa communities of their size.”
“Fairfield has demonstrated its dedication to improved well-being and is well deserving of Blue Zones Community certification,” said Katrina Worlund, Healthways senior vice president, Blue Zones Project. “This community has begun to see positive results, including a significant decrease in tobacco usage at a large worksite and an increase in trail usage. Fairfield’s citizens will reap benefits from these changes for years to come.”
Fifteen Iowa communities are currently part of Blue Zones Project and are positively influencing statewide well-being to date, as measured by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. For more information, please visit www.bluezonesproject.com.
Wellmark, Inc. (www.wellmark.com) 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 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 www.bluezones.com.
Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) is the largest independent global provider of well-being improvement solutions. Dedicated to creating a healthier world one person at a time, the Company uses the science of behavior change to produce and measure positive change in well-being for our customers, which include employers, integrated health systems, hospitals, physicians, health plans, communities and government entities. We provide highly specific and personalized support for each individual and their team of experts to optimize each participant’s health and productivity and to reduce health-related costs. Results are achieved by addressing longitudinal health risks and care needs of everyone in a given population. The Company has scaled its proprietary technology infrastructure and delivery capabilities developed over 30 years and now serves approximately 68 million people on four continents. Learn more at www.healthways.com.