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Forsyth Ranked as One of Georgia's Healthiest Counties

This year's County Health Rankings has Forsyth at the top of the list.

Forsyth County ranks first among Georgia counties in “health outcomes" and third in "health factors," according to the 2013 County Health Rankings released March 20.

The County Health Rankings are published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

The rankings are based on the idea no single thing makes us healthy or unhealthy – rather it is a variety of factors such as physical activity, access to healthy food, education and family and community support combined.

"This is reflective on two important aspects of our community – First, there is a culture here that values a high quality of life and an active life. That is reflected in the continued support in the community of our public parks and recreation amenities, the Greenway, Sawnee Mountain Park, etc.," said James McCoy, president and CEO of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.  "Second, the healthcare community in Forsyth County has made large and wise investments to that support healthy lifestyles."

Lynn Jackson, administrator of Northside Hospital-Forsyth, says perhaps other Georgia communities can look to Forsyth County as a model for a number of reasons.

"Maybe we've got the right mix of recreational activities, the right kind of habits we are creating here, a good, strong school system - you know that we're all collaborating, making it a healthier place," she said.

There are two rankings for each county, one for health outcomes and one for health factors. Health outcomes include how long people live (mortality) and to what degree they report feeling healthy (morbidity). Health factors include our health behaviors, access to clinical care, social and environmental factors and our physical environments.

Forsyth ranked 26 in the sub-ranking of physical environment that is based on limited access to healthy foods, fast food restaurants, daily fine particulate matter, drinking water safety, and access to recreational activities.

McCoy said while Forsyth should be proud of its 2013 ranking, there's always room for improvement.

"The goal shouldn’t be to be the best among the mediocre," he said. "We should be among the best in the nation. We have all the tools at our disposal to get there. Organizations like the Healthcare Association of Forsyth County are working hard to get us there. It’s a long road but one that is important to pursue."

Georgia's top four healthiest counties in order are Fayette, Oconee, Gwinnett, and Cherokee.

You can view the details of Forsyth's health behaviors on the county health rankings and roadmaps page.

Rebecca Jaskot contributed to this article.

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