There’s a sweet spot for African-American health outcomes, and it’s in Georgia.
Usually, African-Americans tend to have worse-than-average health outcomes, driven by a number of factors. A new report by U.S. News and World Report and the Aetna Foundation backs that up. Looking at the health statistics of counties and the percentage of a county’s population that was African-American, the authors found that within the country’s 500 healthiest counties, just 26 had a heavier-than-average black population. (The U.S. population is about 13 percent African-American.)
Among those 26 the report points out two bright spots: the Washington, D.C., and Atlanta areas.
In both places, compared with the U.S. overall, counties existed with both higher-than-average black populations and better-than-average health outcomes.
The authors say they assessed dozens of metrics, such as insurance coverage, doctor visits, income, food accessibility and the natural environment.
Part of the reason those places bucked the trend is money.
Four of those 26 counties were Cobb, Fayette and Paulding counties in metro Atlanta; and Columbia County, on the outskirts of Augusta. The four are among Georgia’s wealthiest, within the top 10 percent of Georgia counties. And in these counties, some black people are sharing in the health benefits of that prosperity.
What makes a difference, according to researchers: Their residents have access to affordable housing and high incomes. Many also hold college degrees, indicating some economic and education factors can be more critical than race when it comes to predicting health outcomes.
“Virtually everything that drives health and opportunities to be healthy in American life is determined by place,” said David Williams, a public health and African-American studies professor at Harvard University.
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