HMSA and Healthways Launch Blue Zones Project® to Improve the Well-being of Hawaii Residents

Blue Zones Community Selection Process Now Open to Interested Hawaii Communities

HONOLULU, Hawaii, and NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Sept. 9, 2014) - HMSA, Blue Zones, LLC, and Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) today announced the launch of the Blue Zones Project® in Hawaii, a major initiative to improve the well-being and longevity of all Hawaii residents. The Blue Zones Project brings together citizens, schools, employers, restaurants, grocery stores and community leaders to improve the living environment so the healthy choice is not only easy but often unavoidable.

Hawaii communities interested in participating in the Blue Zones Project may review application steps at A select number of Hawaii communities will be designated as Blue Zones Communities. Those that are selected will receive assistance from national experts to develop and implement a blueprint for making permanent environment, policy and social network changes that transition people into healthier behaviors. Key dates in the selection process are as follows:

  • September 15 is the deadline to schedule a visit to learn more about the Blue Zones Project and the community selection process.

  • October 1-15, the Blue Zones Project team will conduct community educational visits.

  • October 31 is the deadline to submit a statement of interest.

  • November 13-21, community site visits will occur.

Community selection will take place in 2015.

“HMSA’s overarching goal is to advance the health and well-being of every resident of Hawaii,” said Michael A. Gold, HMSA’s president and chief executive officer. “The Blue Zones Project is one of HMSA’s most important initiatives to drive this transformation in Hawaii. We’re excited to be partnering with Healthways and the Blue Zones organization to further our vision for a healthier Hawaii.”

The Blue Zones Project was born out of National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner’s examination of communities across the globe where people were happily living the longest. Buettner uncovered nine evidence-based common denominators among these “Blue Zones,” such as moving naturally and having a sense of purpose.

Buettner partnered with Healthways in 2009 to bring the Blue Zones Project to the United States and help communities accelerate transformation through a comprehensive set of solutions designed to improve overall well-being. These solutions have measurably lowered healthcare costs, increased productivity, and improved the quality of life for residents in those communities. The Blue Zones Project Hawaii initiative follows the successful examples set by Albert Lea, Minnesota, California’s Beach Cities of Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach and a major ongoing project for the state of Iowa. An additional Blue Zones Project initiative recently launched in Fort Worth, Texas.

Buettner recently introduced the Blue Zones Project to a group of local community government and business leaders who gathered at Kapiolani Community College to learn how they could get involved.

“The longest-lived people don’t run marathons or pump iron,” Buettner told the attendees. “They live in environments that naturally promote physical movement, where it is easy to walk to the store, to their friends’ houses or their place of worship. Their friends are healthy-minded and supportive. Plant-based food is the cheapest and most edible food, and time-honored recipes are followed to make vegetables taste good.

“The traditions that are producing long-lived people in Blue Zones are similar to Hawaii’s traditions. Notions of kuleana, or responsibility and concern, and ohana, or family, figure into health better than drugs do. To achieve lasting transformation, we must integrate these traditions with proven Blue Zones programs designed to help Hawaii residents make healthy choices the easy choices.”

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® is the official measurement tool of the Blue Zones Project in Hawaii. The Well-Being Index is the preeminent source for well-being data in the United States and globally. The questions that make up the survey were scientifically designed by some of the world’s leading experts in economics, psychology and health to thoroughly measure how respondents are faring in all five elements of well-being: purpose, social, financial, community and physical.

Although Hawaii consistently ranks as one of the healthiest states in the nation in overall well-being, as measured by the Well-Being Index, leaders have identified significant opportunity for improvement in certain areas, including work environment. Hawaii’s overall well-being ranking dropped from #1 in 2012 to #8 in 2013.

“As powerful as individual well-being improvement programs can be, the degree of impact they can have is contained to an extent by environmental factors that are typically outside the control of any one individual or business,” said Ben R. Leedle, Jr., Healthways president and chief executive officer. “Sustained transformation depends on having a built environment and social policies that support and reinforce these programs. The Blue Zones Project is a program designed to help residents, businesses and community leaders come together to optimize longevity and community-wide well-being, and we look forward to partnering with HMSA to spread this proven well-being improvement initiative through Hawaii.”

About HMSA

Caring for the people of Hawaii is our promise and our privilege. Working together with employers, partners, physicians and other health care providers, we promote wellness; develop reliable, affordable health plans; and support members with clear, thoughtful guidance.

HMSA is the most experienced health plan in the state, covering more than half of Hawaii’s population. As a recognized leader, we embrace our responsibility to strengthen the health and well-being of our community.

Headquartered on Oahu with centers statewide to serve our members, HMSA is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

About Blue Zones

Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better. The Company’s work is rooted in the New York Times best-selling books The Blue Zones and Thrive - both published by National Geographic books. In 2009, Blue Zones applied the tenets of the books to Albert Lea, MN and successfully raised life expectancy and lowered health care costs for city workers by 40%. Blue Zones takes a systematic, environmental approach to well-being, which focuses on optimizing policy, building design, social networks, and the built environment. The Blue Zones Project is based on this innovative approach. For more information, visit

About Healthways

Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) is the largest independent global provider of well-being improvement solutions. Dedicated to creating a healthier world one person at a time, the Company uses the science of behavior change to produce and measure positive change in well-being for our customers, which include employers, integrated health systems, hospitals, physicians, health plans, communities and government entities. We provide highly specific and personalized support for each individual and their team of experts to optimize each participant’s health and productivity and to reduce health-related costs. Results are achieved by addressing longitudinal health risks and care needs of everyone in a given population. The Company has scaled its proprietary technology infrastructure and delivery capabilities developed over 30 years and now serves approximately 68 million people on four continents. Learn more at