According to the report, Metro Atlanta, north Georgia and coastal counties are among the state’s healthiest, while the more rural southern part of the state is generally less healthy.
The second annual County Health Rankings by the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation assesses wellness in nearly all of the nation’s 3,000-plus counties. It found for 2011 that Fayette County, just south of Atlanta, was the healthiest county in Georgia for the second year in a row. The least healthy county was Calhoun County in southwest Georgia, which fell down one spot from second-to-last in 2010.
The report included several ranked categories such as morbidity, health behaviors and clinical care, which determined the overall healthiness of each of the 156 counties that were counted.
According to the report, Gordon County ranked 56th in mortality, 62nd in health behaviors which counted low birth weight, overall healthiness and poor mental and physical health days, and 104th in clinical care which included factors such as adult obesity and smoking, excessive drinking and teen birth rate.
“Overall Gordon County is a healthy county,” said Lisa Crowder, the director of the Gordon County Health Department, citing teen pregnancy, smoking and high school completion as areas with needed improvement through-out the county.
“Those are definitely issues,” she said.
In Gordon County there are approximately 1,177 people per physician, with the state average being 1,024 people per physician. The report also found that 19 percent of Gordon County’s children live in poverty with the state aver-age at only 11 percent.
Gordon also ranked above the state average in adult obesity.
Gordon County ranked higher than some of the surrounding counties with Floyd County coming in as the 72nd healthiest county, Murray County at 107 and Gilmer County at 74.
Rounding out the healthiest five counties in Georgia were: Oconee in second place, followed by Forsyth, Gwinnett and Cobb. Talbot County was the second unhealthiest, followed by Quitman, Stewart and Randolph.
Georgia is very similar to other states in that there are big differences in a number of factors between the healthiest and least healthy counties, with the healthiest places having fewer smokers, less obesity, higher high school graduation rates, more adults who’ve attended college, fewer children in poverty, and more social support, the researchers said.
The rankings compare counties within each state. They’re based on data from vital statistics and government health surveys. Premature deaths — people dying before age 75 of preventable diseases; self-reported health status; and the percent of low birth-weight babies contribute to the rankings. Other measures include obesity rates, unemployment, high school graduation rates and pollution.
The report provided rankings for 156 of Georgia’s 159 counties. Not ranked were Echols, Taliaferro and Webster counties. The researchers have a policy of not ranking a county if they are unable to secure reliable data for at least 50 percent of the measures within a category.
To find out more about the health rankings go online to, http://www.countyhealthrankings.org.