Fresh Produce, Central Iowa and the Well-Being Index

On Tuesday, July 28, 2015, the United Way of Central Iowa hosted the Central Iowa Well-Being Forum at Des Moines University. The keynote speaker for the event was Dan Witters, Research Director for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Mr. Witters talked about how the Well-Being Index (WBI) is calculated, showed some national trends and regional examples, and then turned his focus to the Well-Being Index of the Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is comprised of five interrelated and interdependent elements:

The Five Elements of Well-Being
Purpose: Liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve goals.

Social: Having supportive relationships and love in your life.

Financial: Managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security.

Community: Liking where you live, feeling safe, and having pride in your community.

Physical: Having good health and enough energy to get things done daily.

Overall, the State of Iowa is ranked 16th in the Well-Being Index. Iowa ranks in the second quintile of states nationwide.


Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, 2014

Iowa’s Well-Being Index for 2014 is 66.9, up from 68.1 in 2010. Limiting the data to the Des Moines MSA, the Well-Being Index for 2014 is 61.5. The United Way of Central Iowa has set a destination of reaching a Well-Being Index of 64.5 for the Des Moines MSA by the year 2020.

Since 2010, Iowa has improved in some areas of the Well-Being Index, but is losing ground in others. Obesity is still increasing, and daily healthy eating habits are decreasing in the state.


Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, 2014

The Des Moines MSA is compared to 100 top MSAs nationwide. Out of these 100 MSAs, the Des Moines MSA ranks 51st in the Well-Being Index. While excelling in the area of Community, and also showing strength in Financial, Iowa is near the end of the pack for the elements of Purpose, Physical and Social.

Mr. Witters suggested focusing on the following areas to increase the Well-Being Index in Iowa and the Des Moines MSA.

  1. Increase produce consumption (92nd)
  2. Increase eating healthy daily (96th)
  3. Decrease obesity (71st)
  4. Decrease tobacco use (79th)
  5. Improve city or area where you live (40th)
  6. Build close relationships encouraging health (81st)
  7. Learn or do something interesting every day (95th)
  8. Reduce daily alcohol consumption (92nd)

Note: the number in parentheses denotes the ranking of the Des Moines MSA compared with the top 100 MSAs nationwide.

Six years ago, the DMARC Food Pantry Network changed our model to provide fresh produce and healthy options for food. This was a result of findings by Iowa State University that pantry clients were more likely to have preventable diseases, particularly in the case of diabetes, where food pantry clients were three times as likely to have diabetes as the general populace.

Today, we continue this commitment to supply those looking for food assistance in Greater Des Moines with healthy food and fresh produce.

These top three goals suggested by Mr. Witters are clear and connected. If we as a community can increase the amount of produce consumed on a daily basis, we will be able to decrease obesity, diabetes, and other health problems, ultimately leading to a higher Well-Being Index for Central Iowa.

For more information on the Central Iowa Well-Being Forum and the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, visit

No Replies to "Fresh Produce, Central Iowa and the Well-Being Index"

    Got something to say?

    Some html is OK