Fayette County has the healthiest residents in Georgia and Quitman County is the least healthy county in the state, according to a new report released today by the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The County Health Rankings are the first to rank the overall health of the counties in all 50 states – more than 3,000 total – by using a standard formula to measure how healthy people are and how long they live.
Georgia’s 10 healthiest counties, starting with most healthy, are Fayette, Oconee, Forsyth, Cobb, Gwinnett, Cherokee, Columbia, Morgan, Henry and Hall.
The 10 counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are Quitman, Calhoun, Talbot, Terrell, Randolph, Hancock, Taylor, Crisp, Stewart and Telfair.
The healthiest of Georgia’s 157 counties are clustered in the northern region; the least healthy counties are sprinkled primarily in the southwestern and southeastern regions of the state. Two of Georgia’s counties were not ranked.
“This report shows us that there are big differences in overall health across Georgia’s counties, due to many factors, ranging from individual behavior to quality of health care, to education and jobs, to access to healthy foods, and to quality of the air,” says Patrick Remington, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Dean for Public Health, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
“For the first time, every person can compare the overall health of their county to the health of other counties in Georgia, and also see where the state needs to improve.”
The online report, available at www.countyhealthrankings.org, includes a snapshot of each county in Georgia with a color-coded map comparing each county’s overall health ranking.
Researchers used five measures to assess the level of overall health or “health outcomes” for Georgia by county: the rate of people dying before age 75, the percent of people who report being in fair or poor health, the numbers of days people report being in poor physical and poor mental health, and the rate of low-birthweight infants.
The report then looks at factors that affect people’s health within four categories: health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment.
Among the many health factors they looked at: rates of adult smoking, adult obesity, binge drinking and teenage pregnancy; the number of uninsured adults, availability of primary care providers, and preventable hospital stays; rates of high school graduation, number of children in poverty; homicide rates, access to healthy foods, air pollution levels and liquor store density.
“These rankings demonstrate that health happens where we live, learn, work and play. And much of what influences how healthy we are and how long we live happens outside the doctor’s office,” says Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “We hope the County Health Rankings spur all sectors – government, business, community and faith-based groups, education and public health – to work together on solutions that address barriers to good health and help all Americans lead healthier lives.”
University of Wisconsin’s Remington says that “It’s easier for people to lead a healthy lifestyle when they live in a healthy community – such as one that has expanded early childhood education, enacted smoke-free laws, increased access to healthier foods, or created more opportunities for physical activity. We hope this report can mobilize community leaders to learn what is making their residents unhealthy and take action to invest in programs and policy changes that improve health,” he adds.
For more information, visit www.countyhealthrankings.org.