An analysis comparing health statistics for Georgia counties shows a wide gap between rural and urban/suburban areas in the state.
The top seven counties in the state in the new health rankings — Fayette, Forsyth, Oconee, Cherokee, Gwinnett, Cobb and Columbia –- are all in large metropolitan areas in the northern or north-central part of the state.
The bottom 10 counties are in rural South or Middle Georgia, according to the rankings, compiled for each state by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and released last week. Here’s a link to the Georgia breakdown.
Rural experts said this Georgia health disparity isn’t surprising, given those areas’ high poverty rates and medical access problems.
The 2012 rankings provide statistics in four categories: health behavior, clinical care, physical environment, and social and economic factors, which include the percentage of children in poverty, unemployment and education rates.
Southern states in general have higher rates of births to teenage mothers, sexually transmitted infections and children in poverty, the study found.
The lowest-ranked county in Georgia is Talbot, in the west-central part of the state. Beverly Townsend, a public health district director whose area includes Talbot, told GPB News that the county lacks important resources that would improve people’s health.
“Unfortunately, in that small county, for our local health department, we have one nurse,” Townsend said. “And they don’t have a supermarket there anymore. That actually closed.”
Fifty percent of the restaurants in Talbot County serve fast food, which is a new measure in the study. Georgia’s average of fast food places is 50 percent, exceeding a national benchmark of 25 percent. full story