By: Laura-Jane Hatcher (WRGA News)
How does Northwest Georgia’s health rank up against the rest of the state?---according to a recent study, not well.
New county health rankings released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation show many counties in Northwest Georgia lagging behind counterparts across the state. Out of 159 counties, Gordon ranks the highest for our seven-county region, sitting at 59th. But, both Floyd and Polk trudge behind, parked as the 91st and 125th healthiest counties respectively.
The rankings are made from dissecting a large pile of data from the area, including infant mortality rates, high-school graduation rates and measures of obesity. And though they may appear alarming, Northwest Georgia Public Health spokesman Logan Boss says to take the rankings with a grain of salt.
“There was a study that came out just past this week that shows only 16% of a million Georgia school children could pass five basic tests of physical fitness---and 20% were unable to pass any of those tests,” Boss says. “This is a huge problem. Our eating habits are a huge problem. But, these county health rankings are really a starting point for a discussion in a community and for community partners to try and address these problems. But, I tell people to use these rankings cautiously---don’t get hung up on where a community ranks in comparison to other counties.”
According to Boss, it’s habits, not hospitals that affect a persons’ health. In accordance with this, agencies across Georgia have really been zeroing in on four areas of public health in recent years; decreasing childhood obesity, smoking and the infant mortality rate while increasing immunizations.