Healthiest State Initiative unveils new tool to track Iowans’ health

Staff Writer
Tri-County Times

The Healthiest State Initiative has released a new tool to help measure and track Iowa’s progress toward becoming the healthiest state in the nation. The Progress Tracker utilizes survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as two national index rankings to determine how Iowans’ overall health has changed in recent years.

“We know the definition of ‘health’ is broad and there are many measurements out there, so we wanted to condense all of that data into one simple dashboard for Iowans to use,” said Jami Haberl, executive director of the Healthiest State Initiative. “This new tool makes it easy for Iowans to see where we have improved and where there is still work to be done.”

The Progress Tracker is following four key indicators: Obesity, Eat Well, Move More and Feel Better. Each measurement is compared to trend history (when available) since 2011.

•Iowa is improving in the measurements of fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity levels, cigarette use and volunteerism.

•Iowa is worsening in the areas of adult obesity, sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and mental resiliency.

•The 2017 America’s Health Rankings reports Iowa’s rank is stable (ranked 15 out of 50 states), while the 2017 Gallup ShareCare Well-Being Index reports Iowa’s rank is worsening (ranked 21).

A complete explanation of each measurement, including source information, trend history and target goals for 2021, can be viewed at

“Some of the data in the Progress Tracker, like Iowans eating more fruits and vegetables and exercising more frequently, is encouraging,” said Haberl. “But other areas, especially rising obesity rates and more Iowans reporting ‘not good’ mental health, is of concern.”

There are a number of resources available on the Healthiest State Initiative website to help Iowans improve their physical, social and emotional well-being:

♥5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! is a proven, scientific method to keep Iowa kids healthy by focusing on the importance of good habits. You can access free resources, order free materials or register your site to start implementing changes.

♥Double Up Food Bucks makes it easier for low-income Iowans to eat fresh fruits and vegetables while supporting family farmers and growing local economies. The program is now accepting 2019 applications for grocery stores and farmers markets.

♥Healthy Hometown, powered by Wellmark, aims to make the healthy choice, the easy choice, using evidence-based interventions and tools. Take a self-assessment as a community or request a free consultation.

TEAM – Teaching Employees Accountability Matters is a free comprehensive training curriculum that sets the stage for employees and supervisors to exemplify and promote a “can do” workplace environment. Sign up for TEAM to improve your workplace culture.

♥Give Back Iowa, through Volunteer Iowa, is an annual eight-week statewide employer-supported volunteer initiative, to serve as a competitive way to encourage organizations and businesses alike to participate in community volunteering.

♥Iowa Walking College is a training program designed to increase statewide advocates on opportunities to improve walkability and active transportation throughout the state.