Seniors with the Hearthstone Hikers Club of Forsyth County maneuver the trails at Vogel State Park during a 2014 outing in Blairsville. The hiking group is sponsored by Forsyth County Senior Services. A 2015 report from the University of Wisconsin ranked Forsyth County tops among Georgia counties when it comes to measuring length and quality of life for residents.
Photo: Forsyth Co. Senior Services
Photo: Forsyth Co. Senior Services

Georgia's healthiest county? It's in metro Atlanta

You may be in great shape, but where does your community rank?

Good news, Fulton County! You're No. 20!

But Forsyth is No. 1 -- when it comes to being Georgia's healthiest county, generally speaking.

In the latest Nationwide County Health Rankings Report issued by the University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute, metro Atlanta took four of the top five slots in the overall rankings for all combined health outcomes, which measure length and quality of life. Forsyth, Gwinnett, Fayette and Cobb headed the list of Georgia counties surveyed. Fulton has reason to celebrate as well, making a big leap from 29th in 2014 to its new position in the top 15 percent of counties ranked by health outcomes.

"The County Health Rankings help us to better strategize, develop policies and put into place environments that foster good health for our residents," Fulton District 4 Commissioner Joan P. Garner says of the report.

According to the study, though, some metro counties have some work (or workouts) ahead of them if they plan to improve their overall fitness, rankings-wise. Clayton, ranked 38th in the report, has higher percentages of adult obesity, physical inactivity, sexually transmitted infections and teen births than the state of Georgia overall.

That said, there's good news for you southside folks. 82% of Clayton residents have adequate access to exercise opportunities, the report finds, so overtaking Forsyth -- or any neighboring metro county -- may not be so tough. Fulton's leap in rankings is the result of a six-year push aimed at improving overall community health.

In other words, the race to a healthier county (and a higher ranking) is indeed a marathon, not a sprint. And metro Atlanta, by and large, is pretty much on the right track.