Davenport, Clinton and Muscatine are among 12 Iowa cities vying to be chosen as a Blue Zones Project demonstration site.

The selected sites will be named early in 2013. These cities will receive assistance from experts to develop and implement a blueprint for making permanent environmental, social and policy changes that transition people into healthier behaviors. Local officials believe that will lead to lower overall health expenses and be an aid to the economies of those cities.

Davenport, Clinton and Muscatine are in another round of the project process, which began last year during the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative. The Blue Zones Project is involved the initiative, as is the 2012 Iowa Healthiest State Walk that took place Oct. 3, and the Start Somewhere Walk that was held in 2011.

This past spring, the cities vied for four final spots, but they were not chosen.

In the next round, the cities are in a group of municipalities with populations of more than 10,000. The others are Altoona, Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Iowa City, Marion, Ottumwa, Oskaloosa and Sioux City.

An additional nine smaller cities are contending for the honor, but none of them are in this region of the state.

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The term “Blue Zone” was coined by National Geographic author Dan Buettner as he identified places around the world where residents live measurably longer, healthier lives with fewer cases of chronic disease. The label has been given to Midwest cities such as Albert Lea, Minn.

Iowa was rated the 16th-healthiest state in the U.S. by the Gallup/Healthways Well-Being Index. In 2011, Gov. Terry Branstad announced a five-year effort to become the healthiest state in the country.