Bibb County finished a disappointing 146th among Georgia’s 159 counties in the area of resident health outcomes, according to a new report compiled by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The 2016 County Health Rankings compares each state’s counties on more than 30 measures that affect health, such as high school graduation rates, access to exercise opportunities, unemployment, water quality and smoking rates.
The report, produced in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, examines factors that impact well-being and can help families thrive, said a statement by Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Bibb County’s low score on health outcomes was driven in part by its high level of premature deaths, which was measured in the number of years of potential life lost before age 75 per 100,000 residents.
Under that measurement, the study found that every group of 100,000 Bibb residents would collectively lose 11,200 potential years of life due to premature death. The average among all Georgia counties was 7,300 years.
Bibb also outpaced many Georgia counties in two areas: low birthweight babies accounting for 13 percent of live births, and 22 percent of adults reporting fair or poor health.
The study found that every group of 100,000 Bibb residents would collectively lose 11,200 potential years of life due to premature death. The average among all Georgia counties was 7,300 years.
Bibb’s low ranking is due in part to the area’s socioeconomic challenges. Bibb has a low high school graduation rate – at just 61 percent – and higher-than-average rates of violent crime, injury deaths, unemployment and children living in poverty.
But in the areas of health behaviors, Bibb ranked 120th, driven by a high rate of adult smokers, obesity, alcohol-impaired driving deaths, teen births and sexually transmitted diseases.
Representatives of the North Central Health District, which serves Bibb and 12 other counties in Central Georgia as a branch of the Georgia Department of Public Health, declined to comment on the report.
The data from the rankings are only as valuable as the action they inspire and the lives they improve, Bridget Catlin, co-director of the County Health Rankings, said a statement.
“Whether it’s addressing health gaps between counties or the concentration of poverty in rural and residentially segregated communities of color – targeting resources to the people and places in greatest need is essential. The rankings are an important springboard for conversations on how to expand opportunity for all to be healthy.”
Nationally, the report included new health measurements that found:
- Residential segregation among blacks and whites – an indicator of health disparities – was highest in Northeast and Great Lakes regions and lowest on the Southeastern seaboard.
- National deaths from drug overdose are up 79 percent since 2002, with the highest rates in northern Appalachian counties and areas in the West and Southwest.
- Thirty-three percent of adults get less than seven hours of sleep each night, which can affect stress, depression and hypertension.