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Study: Clayton is metro Atlanta’s unhealthiest county

Riverdale residents have to drive by a Dunkin’ Donuts to get to the city’s park. A new University of Wisconsin report states there are too many fast food restaurants and not enough recreation facilities in Clayton County.

Riverdale residents have to drive by a Dunkin’ Donuts to get to the city’s park. A new University of Wisconsin report states there are too many fast food restaurants and not enough recreation facilities in Clayton County.

— Clayton County has too many fat people, too many fast food restaurants and not enough recreation facilities for its own good, according to a new study released Wednesday.

The county ranked as the unhealthiest in the 10-county region served by the Atlanta Regional Commission in the University of Wisconsin and Robert Wood John Foundation’s County Health Rankings and Roadmaps report. The region also includes Cherokee, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale counties.

Five of those counties ranked among the 10 healthiest in Georgia, with Fayette County coming in at the No. 2 spot. Four more were also within the top 30.

Clayton County was ranked No. 42 out of the state’s 159 counties. Joel Hall, spokesman for the county health department, said local officials need time to review the data.

“They want to wait and read the report before we can comment on its findings,” Hall said.

On the one hand, Clayton County’s ranking may seem decent when compared to the rest of the state. However, a deeper look at its numbers in 30 subcategories ranging from adult obesity, to inactive adults, to the percentage of restaurants serving fast food and to the number of recreation facilities show some unhealthy trends.

It should be noted that the most recent data researchers provided is from between 2009 and 2011. They looked at information from several agencies and organizations, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics.

Clayton’s obesity rate is highest in metro Atlanta

Thirty-five percent of adults in Clayton County were obese as of 2009, according to the report.

That number is high enough to make it the most obese county in the 10-county area served by the Atlanta Regional Commission. Statewide, Clayton County is tied for Georgia’s ninth-most obese county.

Obesity means a person’s body mass index exceeds 30 and is generally considered to cause a number of health problems, such as diabetes, hypertension or coronary heart disease.

Cobb, Fayette and Fulton counties were tied for the lowest obesity rate in the Atlanta region at 24 percent. DeKalb and Gwinnett counties were the next lowest at 26 percent each. Then came Cherokee and Henry counties at 28 percent, followed by Douglas County (31 percent) and Rockdale County (32 percent).

Georgia’s obesity rate is 28 percent, but researchers recommend it not exceed 25 percent.

Other numbers in the report show why Clayton County’s obesity rate may be so high. Twenty-nine percent of residents are not physically active, compared to 24 percent statewide. The ideal number, according to the report is 21 percent.

Additionally, fast food restaurants made up 64 percent of all restaurants in Clayton County at that same time, whereas they made up only 50 percent of all restaurants in Georgia. Researchers recommended the number not exceed 27 percent.

There were also only two recreation facilities for every 100,000 people in the county at the time, according to the report. Statewide, the ratio is eight facilities for every 100,000 people.

However, the county built the South Clayton Recreation Center in Lovejoy since the data was collected. The center is set to open at the end of the month and construction is expected to begin soon on another recreation center east of Jonesboro.

Eventually, the county will have five recreation centers and two senior centers.

There should ideally be 16 recreation facilities for every 100,000 residents, according to the report.

Other health risks exist

Between 2008 and 2010, Clayton County residents lost 7,780 years of life that could have been lived before they reached the age of 75, according to the report.

Clayton County ranked No. 39 in the state in mortality rates, and No. 66 in morbidity. However, its place in the rankings dropped to No. 126 in the health behaviors areas, such as adult smoking (21 percent as of 2011), sexually transmitted infections (735 for every 100,000 residents in 2010) and teen birth rate (60 child born for every 100,000 teenagers in 2010).

It ranks No. 122 in clinical care, where factors such as the number of uninsured residents, preventable hospital stays, diabetic screening and mammography screening are evaluated.

Twenty-seven percent of Clayton County residents were uninsured as of 2010, which is higher than the statewide figure of 22 percent.

However, it’s the physical environment evaluations, including access to recreation facilities and the percentage of fast food restaurants, where the county posts its worst showing in the rankings. It is ranked No. 149 in that area.

Full data and rankings, as well as information how to improve the health of a community, can be found at www.countyhealthrankings.org/.

Comments

Michael 1 year ago

Experience tells me that someone in government will look at this study and decide that this is a problem that can only be solved through governmental action and spending. The cause of the obesity is really simple to solve through the people taking responsability for their own health. That includes such mundane tasks as eating better, and getting off of their lazy backsides and going to work at a job that requires a good deal of physical activity, or, if that isn't possible, they can get out and excercise. Simple, and no governmental interference is required.

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DE 1 year ago

Well here's an idea.

Require these obese people who are able, not working, and are living on public and government assistance, to start walking through the county picking up trash and debris a couple hours a day, a couple of days a week. This would not only make the appearance of the county more eye pleasing, this would give these individuals the much needed exercise they need. This would also help lower their medical costs, which the taxpayers are paying for, and give the taxpayers a little payback for their tax dollar.

For all of those who are obese that would rather not participate in a program like this, start cutting off their funding.

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Robert 1 year ago

YEA ! We're finally number one at something.

Michael you're probably right about somebody doing a study and you're definitely right about not needing "big brother" to come and fix the problem. Their answer would be more tax funded recreation centers and, of course, buses to take people to the rec centers (and the voting precincts).

DE, I like your idea too but that would be racist to make people work for their money.

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OscarKnight 1 year ago

....(("Clayton is metro Atlanta’s unhealthiest county"))

......Time for another, well earned, Bragging Rights Award for our county.

.....When, and where, will the parade take place ?

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DE 1 year ago

Here's another idea...

Our brave fighting men and women in the Armed Forces are required to eat MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat) on a regular basis while on deployment. These meals are not only nutritious, but have the necessary vitamins and calorie count to keep our troops in excellent shape. They are inexpensive and can be stored for months, if not years.

So this is what I propose...

All of the people that are receiving Food Stamps, EBT, SNAP, or any other food assistance should be issued these MRE's for 3 meals a day for the month for all the members of their family, instead of the current assistance they are receiving now. This would not only be better for them nutrition wise, but would be a enormous savings to the taxpayers of the country. This would also cut out the abuse of these programs that allow the participants to purchase items like ice cream, candy bars, potato chips, cakes, cupcakes and thousands of other items that have no nutritional value, costing taxpayers billions of dollars a year. Changing over to a program like this would also lower the medical costs for the people on these programs because they would be eating a balance diet. It would be a Win-Win for everyone. Better health for those on these programs and a cost savings for those of us who pay for them.

And for the ones on these programs that would rather not participate in a program like this, cut them off completely and tell them to fend for themselves.

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OscarKnight 1 year ago

.....When I was serving in Vietnam, we would be lucky to get C-Rations; This was where I learn what hunger felt like; I was only 18 years old, and still growing. It makes me sick to learn that people on food stamps, sells their food stamps to buy other things.

....The MRE's would be like a feast, from a high end restaurant. We had the dehydration bags of Chili, Spaghetti, Beef Stew, and Chicken Stew, that you add water to, but, not often.

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DE 1 year ago

I too remember eating the C Rations.... not my favorite meal while out in the field, but I didn't die or suffer any long term effects. And I must admit that I was in better physical shape back then. Between the physical activity and proper meals, my BMI was substantially lower back then.

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OscarKnight 1 year ago

...C-Rations : Scramble Eggs was like drawing the shortest straw.

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OscarKnight 1 year ago

(("sexually transmitted infections (735 for every 100,000 residents in 2010)"))

....These are the reported cases

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OscarKnight 1 year ago

......Obesity is not the only health problem in this county; Stress related problems with hypertension, high blood pressure, and strokes is another.

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Robert 1 year ago

Cerebral Obesity is when a county has too many brains and not enough serious thinking going on.

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OscarKnight 1 year ago

.....Just trying endure the risk of living in this county, is placing our lives at risk.

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