Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Marion Named Blue Zones Demonstration Sites

A crowd forms to show their support for the proposed Blue Zone Project which would benefit Cedar Rapids and surrounding communities as the Blue Zone Project Team arrives, on Thursday, March 1, 2012, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Blue Zone project is a joint effort between the community and Blue Zone itself, to help create happier, healthier lives. Cedar Rapids is one of eleven finalists for the Blue Zone Project in Iowa. (Nikole Hanna/The Gazette-KCRG)

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By Aaron Hepker

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Six Iowa communities will become Blue Zones as part of a privately funded program designed to reduce obesity.

Sioux City, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Muscatine, Oskalooska and Marion were named Blue Zone demonstration sites Wednesday. They join 19 other Iowa cities that are participating in the effort.

Under the program, teams will work with the communities for two years to develop healthier food options and create effective public health policy.

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield has donated $5 million toward the program each year since it started in 2011.

Gov. Terry Branstad says the program is essential to reaching his goal to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation by 2016.

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