Several SWGA counties rank low in 2017 health rankings - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Several SWGA counties rank low in 2017 health rankings

The study ranks many southwest Georgia counties as some of the most unhealthiest in the state (Source: WALB) The study ranks many southwest Georgia counties as some of the most unhealthiest in the state (Source: WALB)
Quitman County was ranked last (Source: WALB) Quitman County was ranked last (Source: WALB)
Loretta Harrison (Source: WALB) Loretta Harrison (Source: WALB)
Brenda Greene (Source: WALB) Brenda Greene (Source: WALB)
Julie Michas (Source: WALB) Julie Michas (Source: WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

YMCA member Loretta Harrison is making a move towards a healthier lifestyle.

"My cholesterol is down, my weight is down and those are the things that are important to me is to be a little more healthier," said Loretta Harrison.

A Tabata Boot Camp class at the YMCA is just one of the ways Harrison gets moving. Along with better food choices, it has helped her lose seven pounds in the past few weeks and that's a change Harrison is glad to see.

"I was like 'Aw, man, I'm going to have a heart attack, a stroke and everything else at age 55,' so I decided to change what I was doing," Harrison said.

But according to a county-by-county health ranking, not everyone is making that change.

The study released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranked many southwest Georgia counties as some of the most unhealthiest in the state, according to various health factors.

Dougherty County comes in just one slot from making the bottom 10 at 148 out of the 159 counties in Georgia. Randolph, Early and Clay counties fell in the bottom five with Quitman County coming in dead last.

"It's no surprise that we do have some issues with health outcomes in southwest Georgia," said district deputy director Brenda Greene.

Greene said the study helps the department tackle major issues in the region like obesity and tobacco use.

"This data that we are seeing now is a good tool to help us look at where we are and raise awareness about the health in our communities and we do know that we got some work to do in a lot of our communities," Greene said.

Health experts say that's work that can start at an individual level.

"I don't care if you're just raking your yard, you just go out and walk around the block once, and two weeks from now you can walk around the block twice, anything you can do helps," said YMCA instructor Julie Michas.

Lee County was the only southwest Georgia county to make the top 20. It was ranked at number 12.

The Southwest Georgia Department of Public Health offers several programs to help individuals improve their health, including the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line. The line provides free services to help smokers stop tobacco use. The number is 1-877-270-7867.

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