A study released Tuesday ranks Oconee as one of the top three healthiest counties in Georgia.
The rankings, published by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, allow more than 3,000 counties and the District of Columbia to compare how healthy their residents are and how long they live.
Oconee takes second place in "Health Factors" when examining things like health behaviors and social and economic factors. In the 2011 study, Oconee ranked third after Fayette and Forsyth in that category. Coffee County had the lowest ranking.
In the 2012 study, Oconee ranks third for "Health Outcomes" such as low rates of premature death, poor health days and low birthweight. Last year, Oconee came in second only to Fayette. But Forsyth slipped into the top two this year, pushing Oconee back one spot. Talbot fell at the very bottom of the list.
Three of Georgia's 159 counties - Echols, Webster, and Taliaferro -- were not ranked in either category.
As for a couple of Oconee' neighbors, in "Health Outcomes," Clarke's overall ranking in the 2012 study is 20th, down from 15th last year. Barrow moves up to 40th from 43th last year. Clarke ranks 23rd in "Health Factors" and Barrow pops in at 70th.
2012 County Health RankingsOconee Clarke Barrow Overall Ga. Rank Health Outcomes
3 20 40 Overall Ga. Rank Health Factors
2 23 70 Mortality 2 19 42 Morbidity 5 23 49 Health Behaviors 3 9 128 Clinical Care 3 16 90 Social and Economic Factors 1 50 36 Physical Environment 58 134 100
Within states and across the nation, there are big differences in health and the factors that influence health, according to a news release about the study.
"Even the healthiest counties have areas where they can improve. Healthier counties (those where people live longer and have a better quality of life) have lower rates of smoking, physical inactivity, teen births, preventable hospital stays, unemployment, children in poverty, and violent crime and higher levels of education, social support, and access to primary care physicians. But healthier counties are no more likely than unhealthy counties to have lower rates of excessive drinking or obesity or better access to healthy food options," the release states.