Iowa Ranks No. 40 Among Brain-Healthy States in the Nation PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Andrea Martin   
Thursday, 22 September 2011 14:48

2011 America’s Brain Health Index Reveals States With Healthiest Brains in National Health Education Campaign to Empower People to Keep Minds Active

 COLUMBIA Md., September 22, 2011 — The 2011 America’s Brain Health Index, released today, reveals which areas of the country have progressed, held their own or lost ground in taking measures to improve their brain health over the last two years. The state-by-state ranking of brain health is part of a national health education campaign called Beautiful Minds: Finding Your Lifelong Potential, a partnership between life’sDHA™ and the National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA), designed to inspire Americans to develop and maintain healthy, beautiful minds by incorporating key lifestyle factors known as the four dimensions of brain health — diet and nutrition, physical health, mental health and social well-being.

According to the 2011 America’s Brain Health Index, Iowa ranks No. 40 among the brain-healthiest states in the nation. Strengths include active community participants, low incidence of poor mental health days and active readers. However, Iowa has challenges that include low consumption of DHA-fortified foods and supplements, high prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and a low level of religious or spiritual activity.

The campaign today also introduced this year’s “Beautiful Minds,” 11 individuals from across the country who are fulfilling the four dimensions of brain health and achieving amazing things in the second half of their lives. A photo essay exhibit featuring their personal stories will travel the country through 2012 to inspire Americans to improve their own brain health.

Americans who want to join this growing brain-healthy community to find out how other states rank in the America’s Brain Health Index, meet this year’s Beautiful Minds, check the schedule of the traveling photo essay exhibit and learn about simple steps that anyone can take to improve brain health are invited to visit www.beautiful-minds.com.

“Keeping the brain healthy is easier than many people realize. Everyday actions such as adding good fats like DHA omega-3 to your diet and staying active physically, mentally and socially are all good ways to influence long-term brain health,” said Dr. Michael Roizen, leading medical expert, best-selling author and advisor to the Index.

America’s Brain Health Index: Inspiration to boost brain health

To develop America’s Brain Health Index, life’sDHA worked in partnership with Dr. Roizen and other key health experts including Dr. Majid Fotuhi M.D., Ph.D., chairman of the Neurology Institute for Brain Health and Fitness, and an assistant professor of neurology, John Hopkins School of Medicine, to determine the key indicators of brain health and to build the America’s Brain Health Index with data aggregated from highly credible secondary resources.

Conducted in 2009 and 2011, the America’s Brain Health Index evaluated the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia based on 21 factors including diet and nutrition, physical health, mental health and social well-being. In addition to providing a ranking for each state, the Index also includes comparative data for over two years. For example, the 2011 Index shows that the top two brain-healthy geographies in the United States are Maryland (No.1) and District of Columbia (No. 2). Comparative data also shows that Maryland has overtaken District of Columbia for the No. 1 spot since 2009. Both geographies are home to two of the Beautiful Minds who are being recognized for their commitment to brain health.

“As the country experiences unprecedented increase in life expectancy to 78 years – an increase of 30 percent over the past century – the knowledge that we can influence brain health and cognition throughout life is more important than ever, said Dr. Fotuhi. “The largest aging population in history will experience the most longevity of any generation, which means taking action to improve our brain health should be a high priority on the health checklist for all of us.”

Here is a sampling of brainpower-boosting tips available on www.beautiful-minds.com:

  • Diet and nutrition — incorporating a healthy diet that is low in saturated fat and added sugar but rich in brain-enhancing foods such as good fats like DHA omega-3, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, and algal DHA supplements.
  • Physical health — staying physically active for at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week and making wise lifestyle decisions such as getting enough sleep and not smoking.
  • Mental health — continually challenging the brain through activities such as game playing, creative pursuits like gardening, dancing or painting, or learning a new language or skill.
  • Social well-being — nurturing human connections and engaging in social activities to give life purpose, such as volunteering.

Top 10 Brain-Healthy States

No. 1 Maryland

No. 2 District of Columbia

No. 3 Washington

No. 4 Colorado

No. 5 Vermont

No. 6 New Hampshire

No. 7 Oregon

No. 8 Utah

No. 9 Maine

No. 10 New Jersey

States That Could Use a Brain Boost

No. 50 Louisiana

No. 51 Mississippi

Other Key Index Findings:

  • In the 2011 Index, Delaware had the biggest gain (+13 points) since the 2009 report. The state had a strong performance across a range of factors, including many of those that have a bigger weight on the overall Index, such as consumption of fruits and vegetables, breast-feeding, religious/spiritual activities and playing games.
  • Arizona had the biggest decrease (-10) since the 2009 report. While Arizona slipped in all areas except physical health, its residents can nourish their minds by increasing DHA consumption and engaging in more religious or spiritual activities.
  • The two lowest-ranking states, Louisiana and Mississippi, had high incidences of diabetes or gestational diabetes.
  • Additionally, the top two ranked geographies in 2009 swapped positions in 2011. Maryland is now No.1 and District of Columbia is No. 2.

Methodology: Ranking America’s Brain Health

The 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia were each evaluated based on 21 brain health indicators in the areas of diet, physical health, mental health and social well-being. Indicators included factors that have been shown to be key to   brain health such as consumption of DHA omega-3 fats, breast-feeding rates, smoking rates, Alzheimer’s disease prevalence, time spent sleeping, time spent on religious/spiritual activities, and level of community involvement, among many others. For each brain health indicator, data for all 51 geographies was compared to the national average, which was set at 100. Data points that were better than the national average indexed higher than 100, and data points that were poorer than the national average indexed lower than 100. After weighting the relative importance of each indicator to brain health, an overall index score was calculated for each geography. Geographies were then ranked from first to 51st.

About life’sDHA™

life'sDHA™, a DSM Nutritional Products brand, is a sustainable and vegetarian source of algal DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) omega-3 important for brain, heart and eye health throughout life. Fish are often incorrectly thought to be the only source of DHA omega-3. However, life'sDHA offers a trusted, vegetarian form of algal DHA that contains no oceanic pollutants or toxins. Fish are sources of DHA because of the DHA-rich microalgae in their food chain; life'sDHA is derived directly from microalgae, a renewable, sustainable source of DHA that does not deplete ocean resources, and is produced entirely in the U.S. in an FDA-inspected facility. Today, life'sDHA is found in numerous foods, beverages and supplements for people of all ages. For a complete list of products containing life’sDHA, visit www.lifesdha.com.

About the National Center for Creative Aging

The National Center for Creative Aging (NCCA) was founded in 2001 and is dedicated to promoting creative expression as vital to healthy aging through education, research, advocacy, and technical assistance in health and wellness, lifelong learning and community. Based in Washington, D.C., NCCA is a nonprofit organization with 3,000 members and is affiliated with The George Washington University.

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