"Once again, Iowans turned out in extraordinary numbers to support our effort to become the healthiest state in the nation," said Ric Jurgens, chair of the Healthiest State Initiative board. "A one-kilometer walk, by itself, won't change a person's health. But participating in the Healthiest State Walk sends a message about our commitment as Iowans to our ambitious goal. It brings communities and colleagues together to say, 'We're going to do this.'"
In August 2011, Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds announced the plan to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation within five years as measured by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. In 2011, Iowa ranked 16th compared to all other states, moving up from the 19th position in 2010.
In addition, during its first year the Healthiest State Initiative helped shine a spotlight on the state's well-being challenge, highlighted existing programs and developed new programs such as a healthy restaurant entrée pilot program and Laugh Out Loud Day. In August, the Initiative sponsored the opening ceremonies at the Iowa State Fair and co-sponsored a mobile application to help find healthy food options at the Fair.
According to Jurgens, the Healthiest State Initiative will focus in the coming year on key areas that will help improve the state's well-being. These include efforts to promote consumption of fruits and vegetables, smoking cessation initiatives and programs to improve workplace well-being. Planning is underway for these efforts.
The Healthiest State Initiative is a privately led, public effort that engages Iowans and their communities throughout the state. It involves individuals, families, businesses, faith-based organizations, not-for-profits and the public sector in a broad-based community-focused effort. For more information, visit www.iowahealthieststate.com.