Blue Zone Initiative helps unite Siouxland - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Blue Zone Initiative helps unite Siouxland


Jobs, taxes and schools. All big areas of government that Iowa's governor wants to change. But, Terry Branstad says none of them will improve without a huge change in the state's health.

Presently, the average American burns only 100 calories a day. And, that includes those who work out regularly. The life expectancy of your average Iowan is 79-years-old. But, the health research organization, "Healthways", says it should be 98.

"The change its going to make in their life is, for once the healthy choice will be readily available as opposed to being something you have to go hunt down," said Joel Spoonheim of Healthways.

It's a change several Siouxland communities are chomping at the bit to make. In fact, several of them traveled to Harlan and Storm Lake, Iowa Monday for a Blue Zone Road Show. This gave the communities an opportunity to learn what it would take to do that.

Among those was Sioux City. More than 50 city and business leaders took a bus to the road show in Harlan. The metro area seemed ready to take on any challenges it has to to make their application number one.

"We're going to have to be creative," said Superintendent Dr. Paul Gausman.

Creative to design a plan and a much healthier Sioux City. Dr. Paul Gausman said. Winning the blue ribbon in this Blue Zone Initiative could drastically change the health of our students.

"We must recognize that currently only 10-percent of students walk to school. And we certainly are a community that could create more infrastructure, create more interest," said Dr. Gausman.

And in the end, create more safe walking paths to school and get more students making the healthy choice for life. Those healthy choices are also something the "Blue Zone" project would create at businesses. Adjusting items in vending machines and nudging workers to take the stairs are just a couple of things that could create big returns in savings on the health insurance bottom line at work.

"For every improvement point in the Well Being Index, we know that drives down one-percent of health care costs. So that's highly correlated," Laura Jackson of Wellmark said.

Sioux City may have to overcome a big challenge to win the Blue Zone title. Its metropolitan, tri-state make-up. The Blue Zone committee is looking for an area with one mayor, one city council and one public school district. So how will Siouxland show it can work together between communities to become one Blue Zone covering three states?

"What we found in Siouxland is we do cooperate very well together and based on conversations during and after the meeting, there's a good possibility we may send two applications, one representing Sioux City proper, and one involving the metropolitan statistical area; which would include our friends in Nebraska and South Dakota," Chamber President Chris McGowan said .

But no matter which application would get chosen, McGowan says in the end the Blue Zone Initiative would help everyone. He says it's like economic development, when one city gets a big boost, everybody benefits. And he's very optimistic about Sioux City's chances.

"We are a really creative community and when we put our collective minds to something we do very, very well," said McGowan.

Click here to pledge your support for the Blue Zone Initiative

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