Georgia’s Healthiest Counties Ranked For 2018

FORSYTH COUNTY, GA — Forsyth County is Georgia’s healthiest county for the sixth straight year, according to 2018 rankings released Wednesday and produced by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

The rankings again showed wealthier suburban counties as Georgia’s healthiest. After Forsyth, the top five are rounded out by Oconee, Cherokee, Fayette, and Gwinnett counties. The next five, rounding out the top ten, are Columbia, Cobb, Harris, Paulding and Coweta.

The rankings look at factors other than medical care, such as education, transportation and poverty, that influence how long and how well people live. The study says the unhealthiest counties are mostly in rural areas, many in the southern part of the state. (See the full list at the bottom of this story.)

The five Georgia counties deemed least healthy are:

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Forsyth has an 11 percent uninsured rate compared to 16 percent statewide. Forsyth also has low rates of premature deaths, teen births and STDs; and just 7 percent of children live in poverty, compared to 23 percent statewide.

The report noted that children in poverty are less likely to have access to quality schools and have fewer chances to be prepared for higher-wage jobs. In Georgia, 23 percent of children live in poverty, compared with 20 percent nationally.

For nearly a decade, the annual County Health Rankings have shown that where we live makes a difference in how well and how long we live. This year, the analyses find that meaningful health gaps persist not only by place, but also by race and ethnicity.

"We can’t be a healthy, thriving nation if we continue to leave entire communities and populations behind," said Dr. Richard Besser, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "Every community should use their County Health Rankings data, work together, and find solutions so that all babies, kids, and adults – regardless of their race or ethnicity – have the same opportunities to be healthy."

These gaps are largely influenced by differences in opportunities – from a lack of access to quality health care to a lack of safe, affordable housing – that disproportionately affect people of color. This year’s Key Findings Report shows some troubling trends that stand in the way of good health:

There is an alarming pattern of racial disparity among low birthweight babies, which is a key indicator of quality of life for mothers and babies. Compared to white babies, black babies are twice as likely to be born at low birthweight and about twice as likely to die before their first birthday. Segregated communities of color are more likely to be cut off from opportunities for health. This year’s report shows blacks in more segregated counties fare worse in rates of child poverty, infant mortality, and high school graduation rates than blacks in less segregated counties. A heavy burden of poverty falls on children of color. Today, 1 in 5 children grow up in poverty in America, often at twice the rates for white children. One improvement is that teen birth rates have been declining across urban and rural communities and racial groups for more than a decade. Hispanic teens have seen the most improvement in birth rates, falling from 77.7 to 31.9 births per 1,000 females, ages 15-19, from 2006 to 2016.

Visit County Health Rankings to learn more about what’s happening in your community and explore the Take Action to Improve Health resources for policies and strategies to consider.

Here are the Georgia rankings of healthiest counties:

1 Forsyth (FO)
2 Oconee (OC)
3 Cherokee (CE)
4 Fayette (FY)
5 Gwinnett (GW)
6 Columbia (CU)
7 Cobb (CB)
8 Harris (HI)
9 Paulding (PD)
10 Coweta (CW)
11 White (WT)
12 Lee (LE)
13 Hall (HL)
14 Fulton (FU)
15 Jackson (JA)
16 Pickens (PC)
17 Catoosa (CS)
18 DeKalb (DK)
19 Jones (JN)
20 Camden (CM)
21 Houston (HO)
22 Henry (HY)
23 Dawson (DW)
24 Bryan (BR)
25 Barrow (BW)
26 Douglas (DG)
27 Habersham (HA)
28 Union (UN)
29 Effingham (EF)
30 Walton (WN)
31 Lumpkin (LP)
32 Oglethorpe (OG)
33 Morgan (MN)
34 Johnson (JO)
35 Towns (TO)
36 Gilmer (GI)
37 Charlton (CH)
38 Rabun (RB)
39 Pike (PI)
40 Long (LO)
41 Whitfield (WH)
42 Bartow (BT)
43 Jasper (JS)
44 Chattahoochee (CC)
45 Madison (MD)
46 Floyd (FL)
47 Banks (BN)
48 McIntosh (MI)
49 Liberty (LI)
50 Clarke (CK)
51 Crawford (CD)
52 Heard (HE)
53 Rockdale (RO)
54 Newton (NE)
55 Glynn (GY)
56 Chatham (CA)

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