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Twin Cities attract renowned health experts to inaugural conference

MINNEAPOLIS (April 2, 2013) Who wants to die early or live with a chronic illness? Yet, 95 percent of the population lives with an identifiable risk factor, and the U.S. spends $2.5 trillion on health care 70 percent of which is spent on lifestyle-related disease.

For people who are committed to changing that reality, Minneapolis will be the place to be in April. Some of the nation's top thought leaders and experts in health promotion and well-being will be here, and Minnesotans will show how communities have connected successfully to transform everyone's health. A new national conference, Connecting to Transform Communities: Stakeholders in Health & Wellness, is being hosted by the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation and Allina Health. The event will be held at the Radisson Plaza Hotel Minneapolis on Thursday, April 25 and Friday, April 26, 2013, and will bring James Fowler, Ph D; Dan Buettner and David Katz, MD, MPH, three of the world's most renowned health care and wellness experts, to the stage.

"The influential professionals who have agreed to join us at this conference are engaged in conversations at a national level on how we improve health care and on how we improve the wellness of our communities," said Jackie Boucher, vice president of education at Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation and program director for this event. "To bring all of these stakeholders together in Minneapolis is a rare and exciting opportunity for us to learn from each other, and ultimately contribute to improving the health of our communities."

Fowler's commentary on social networks is broadly covered by media such as the New York Times, NPR and ABC News. His work is recognized by the Guggenheim Foundation and the Harvard Business Review and his acclaimed book, Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks has been cited by Oprah Winfrey and the New York Times Book Review. One of the foremost thinkers on the topic of social networks, Fowler will keynote the first day of the conference.

Buettner, a Minneapolis resident, is founder of Blue Zones and the author of Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way. He is a past finalist for the National Magazine Award for "The Secrets of Living Longer," an Emmy Award-winning documentary producer, a New York Times best-selling author and a three-time Guinness World Record holder.

Katz is the founding director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center and is counted among the 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2012. He is a past nominee for the U.S. Surgeon General post, one of the nation's top physicians in Preventive Medicine, and the first inductee into the Marketing Disease Prevention in America Hall of Fame for efforts related to childhood obesity control.

The conference will highlight programs and strategies from across the country to improve the health of entire communities, including innovative Minnesota initiatives such as Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project, and Allina Health's Backyard Initiative and Healthy Communities Partnership. Community, health care and business leaders, and program staff will have the opportunity to discuss innovative approaches and strategies to help engage communities, maintain momentum and measure impact.

"We are pleased to be able to sponsor a dialog that will help us to engage our communities in health, digital health communications strategies, and creating accountable care communities," said Boucher, who is also the director of The Heart of New Ulm Project. "Connecting to Transform Communities: Stakeholders in Health & Wellness promises to be an event that not only highlights the good work being done here in the Twin Cities, but also one that contributes to the dialog that is occurring across the country on how nutrition and wellness can benefit whole communities."

Along with national presenters, local presenters include representatives from Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota, Allina Health, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, Minneapolis Heart Institute, Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, Minnesota Department of Health, Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, StayWell Health Management, UnitedHealth Group's Center for Health Reform & Modernization, University of Minnesota and several local and regional initiatives.


Contact: Steve Goodyear
Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation

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