Provo-Orem, Utah ranked first in Gallup-Healthways Community Well-Being Index

For the sixth consecutive year, global well-being improvement leader Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) and world-leading management consulting firm Gallup have released their analysis of the state of well-being for communities, states and congressional districts in the United States. Provo-Orem, Utah, and Huntington-Ashland, West Virginia-Kentucky-Ohio, bookended the communities list, with top and bottom rankings, respectively.

The analysis is based on data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®, a definitive measure and empiric database of real-time changes in well-being throughout the world. Americans' perceptions on topics such as physical and emotional health, healthy behaviors, work environment, social and community factors, financial security, and access to necessities such as food, shelter and healthcare are analyzed to create a composite well-being rank for each community.

The new State of American Well-Being report provides overall well-being rankings for the 189 largest U.S. communities as well as rankings for all U.S. states and congressional districts. The report also includes insights on well-being influencers, including but not limited to smoking, obesity and job satisfaction.

The ten communities with the highest well-being in the nation are:

  1. Provo-Orem, Utah
  2. Boulder, Colorado
  3. Fort Collins-Loveland, Colorado
  4. Honolulu, Hawaii
  5. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California
  6. Ann Arbor, Michigan
  7. Naples-Marco Island, Florida
  8. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, California
  9. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, California
  10. Lincoln, Nebraska

Certain communities stand out for specific well-being achievements, as reported by their residents. Boulder for example has the nation's lowest obesity rate at 12.4%, making it the only community in the United States covered by the report that meets the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's stated goal of 15% obesity rate or lower. Provo-Orem has the lowest self-reported smoking rate at 7.0%, while Honolulu has the best self-reported emotional health. Port St. Lucie, Florida, has the lowest levels of self-reported depression, and residents of Olympia, Washington, say they eat more produce than people in any other community. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont and Washington-Arlington-Alexandria are the three large (1 million+) metropolitan areas with the highest well-being in the nation.

"Increased well-being is vital to improving the physical, emotional and financial health of Americans, and communities that score high in well-being have achieved success in creating environments where people can live their best lives," explained Dan Witters, research director of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. "Well-being goes far beyond physical wellness and traditional health risk factors, and we commend the top communities for cultivating and supporting environments where people are motivated to achieve their goals, enjoy what they do, feel safe and financially secure, and have the supportive relationships and good health they need to get things done each day."

"There are tangible policies that communities can adopt to actively cultivate and improve residents' well-being," said Dan Buettner, National Geographic Fellow, New York Times best-selling author and founder of Blue Zones®, a company that puts the world's best practices in longevity and well-being to work in people's lives. "Policies that nudge people into healthy activities — where it's easy to walk to the store, bike to a friend's house, get access to fresh produce, and be surrounded by healthy-minded, supportive friends — are ones that make the healthy choice also the easy choice. Sustained transformation depends on building an environment and establishing social policies that support and reinforce these programs."

A Successful Approach to Community Well-Being Transformation

As part of a strategic approach to community well-being improvement and transformation, Buettner partnered with Healthways in 2010 to develop the Blue Zones Project to make healthy choices easier through changes to environment, policy, and social networks. The Project has been successfully implemented in 17 communities in the U.S., including the Beach Cities communities of Southern California (Hermosa, Manhattan and Redondo), Albert Lea, Minnesota, and the entire state of Iowa, with additional Project initiatives underway for Fort Worth, Texas, and the entire state of Hawaii.

For the 123,000 residents of the Beach Cities of Southern California, the Project's success has led to measurable improvement in well-being, resulting in millions of dollars in community and business healthcare savings through reduced rates of obesity and smoking and increased rates of exercise and fresh produce consumption. Beach Cities outcomes as measured through the Well-Being Index include the following:

  • Obesity dropped 14% from 2010 to 2012 with an estimated 1,645 fewer obese adults. Lower obesity rates translate to $2.35 million in healthcare-related savings for Beach Cities businesses and residents over two years.
  • Smoking rates declined more than 30%, equating to 3,484 fewer smokers. This decrease equates to $6.97 million in healthcare-related savings since 2010.
  • Exercise rates increased by more than 10% as more people reported exercising at least 30 minutes three times per week.
  • Healthy eating habits improved 9%, with more people reporting eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables four or more days in the past week.

"The Beach Cities Well-Being Index findings confirm that health and quality of life in a community can be measurably improved by taking a holistic approach to addressing not only physical health but also the social and emotional factors that are pivotal to greater well-being," said Ben R. Leedle, Jr., Healthways president and chief executive officer. "Whether you're an individual who wants to live better, an employer who understands well-being's relationship to workforce and business performance, a healthcare organization focused on improving outcomes, or a government that wants to improve the economic health and vitality of its community, the significant progress made in the Beach Cities underscores the importance of emphasizing community transformation as part of a total population health management initiative."

Working Together to Improve the Health of Populations and Individuals

In 2007, Gallup and Healthways initiated a 25-year partnership merging decades of clinical research and development expertise, health leadership and behavioral economics research to track and understand the key factors that drive well-being. Together, the organizations have built the world's largest data set on well-being to support their mutual goals of helping countries, governments, communities and businesses better understand and improve the health of both populations and individuals.

Launched January 2, 2008, the Well-Being Index provides unmatched, in-depth insight into the well-being of populations. Gallup conducts 500 telephone interviews a day with Americans to gather their perceptions of well-being, for a resulting sample that represents an estimated 95 percent of all U.S. households. In 2013, Gallup and Healthways extended the reach of the Well-Being Index beyond the United States; global leaders now have the ability to benchmark the well-being of their country against the results of 140 countries around the world.




The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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