CUMMING — Community leaders have been committed to keeping Forsyth’s designation as the state’s healthiest county.
And the effort to maintain the title, first secured last year, did not go unnoticed as the 2014 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings & Roadmaps study revealed today.
Northside Hospital-Forsyth Administrator Lynn Jackson said she’s already looking toward next year’s list.
“We can’t get too comfortable. We can’t take it for granted,” she said of the consecutive top rankings. “Good health is a gift, and so we need to aspire to be three years in a row … and hold that position for a length of time.”
James McCoy, president and CEO of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, said the commitment to health starts with residents and is reflected in the efforts of the government and business community to meet the demand.
“It speaks very well, first and foremost to the care that the people in our community take of their own health, and that they are very conscious of their lifestyle and what they’re doing,” McCoy said.
“They hear the demands of the community and are responsive to it, and to continuing to make strong investments in parks and recreation and the [Big Creek] Greenway, and things that really add to the quality of life and well-being for our community. We also see a continued willingness on the part of the folks who continue to make investments into things like Northside Hospital-Forsyth.”
The study, conducted through the University of Wisconsin, used a rankings system based on a range of measures to determine health levels.
Factors such as obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption rates were taken into account. Measurements also include socioeconomic factors, such as high school graduation rates, number of residents with health insurance, access to healthy foods, parks and clean air.
Jackson said it’s those community benefits that contribute to Forsyth’s healthy citizens.
“Once you’re on a trajectory of positive improvements in your health, it’s sort of a self-fulfilling prophesy,” she said. “The better you feel, the better you want to feel. And people who are taking advantage, say, of our great parks, once they get going and see how good it makes them feel, they take on new things.”
Forsyth's child poverty rate is 8 percent, much lower than Georgia's average of 27 percent, and single-parent homes in Forsyth total 13 percent, compared to the state's 36 percent. The adult obesity rate is 22 percent in the county. While that is still a high statistic, it’s an improvement over last year’s 23 percent, and still better than the state’s 28 percent rate.
Fayette County placed second in the study, followed by Oconee, Gwinnett, Cherokee and Cobb, rounding out the top six. Lumpkin and Hall and Dawson counties ranked 9th, 12thand 23rd, respectively.