If you’re looking to get or stay healthy, communities around Lake Lanier provide a good starting place.
Of 159 counties in Georgia, Forsyth is the healthiest, and Hall ranks 17th, according to the sixth annual County Health Rankings prepared by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the largest philanthropic organization in the nation focused exclusively on public health issues, and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
The rankings are based on about 30 criteria that impact health, including education, income, crime, jobs, housing and exercise.
“The County Health Rankings have helped galvanize communities across the nation to improve health,” Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said in a statement. “Solutions and innovation are coming from places as diverse as Williamson, West Virginia, in the heart of Appalachia, to urban New Orleans. They are engaging business, public health, education, parents and young people to build a culture of health.”
According to this year’s rankings, the five healthiest counties in the Peach State, in order, are Forsyth, Gwinnett, Fayette, Cobb and Oconee.
Healthier counties have better access to parks and recreation, more college educated residents and fewer preventable hospital stays.
The five counties with the poorest health are Early, Taliaferro, Warren, Randolph and Crisp.
Hall ranks in the top 50 in health factors and outcomes, such as physical and mental health, use of alcohol and the number of uninsured.
Hall also ranks high when it comes to clinical care and socioeconomic statistics.
However, while Hall has a higher percentage of high school graduates and lower violent crime rates than statewide averages, it has fewer college-educated citizens, more children in poverty and income inequality is about the same.
According to the rankings, one out of four children in the United States lives in poverty. The Southeast and West were hit hardest by job losses during the economic recession.
And violent crime is also more prevalent in the Southeast than other regions.
Hall receives its poorest ranking when it comes to the physical environment. Long commutes, severe housing problems and air pollution place the county at No. 123.
Meanwhile, Forsyth County ranked first in health outcomes, third in health factors, ninth for clinical care (versus 50th for Hall) and two for socioeconomics.
But like Hall, Forsyth slips in the rankings when it comes to the health of the physical environment, coming in at No. 100. Air pollution and traffic congestion also play a role there.
For more information, visit www.countyhealthrankings.org.