Forrest County ranks 39 of 82 in 'healthiest'


Lamar County has been named No. 4 in the healthiest counties in Mississippi, according to the ninth annual County Health Rankings released Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Forrest County is ranked 39th of the state’s 82 counties.

An easy-to-use snapshot that compares counties within states, the rankings show that where you live influences how well and how long you live. This year’s analyses show that lack of opportunity, such as education, jobs, and affordable housing, disproportionately affects minorities across the nation and within Mississippi.

The new Rankings State Reports call attention to key drivers of health such as children in poverty. Poverty limits opportunity and increases the chance of poor health. Children in poverty are less likely to have access to well-resourced and quality schools and have fewer chances to be prepared for living wage jobs.

The Mississippi State Report reveals that in Mississippi, 30 percent of children live in poverty, compared to the U.S. rate of 20 percent. Among racial and ethnic groups in Mississippi, rates of children in poverty range from 16 percent to 51 percent with American Indian/Alaskan Native children faring the worst and white children faring the best.

According to the 2018 Rankings, the five healthiest counties in Mississippi, starting with most healthy, are Rankin County, followed by DeSoto County, Madison County, Lamar County and Lafayette County.

 “We can’t be a healthy, thriving nation if we continue to leave entire communities and populations behind,” said Richard Besser, RWJF president and CEO. “Every community should use their County Health Rankings data, work together, and find solutions so that all babies, kids, and adults – regardless of their race or ethnicity – have the same opportunities to be healthy.”

The five counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are Holmes County, Coahoma County, Quitman County, Claiborne County, and Jefferson County.

“The time is now to address long-standing challenges like child poverty,” said Julie Willems Van Dijk, director of County Health Rankings & Roadmaps. “This year’s rankings are a call to action to see how these persistent health gaps play out locally, take an honest look at their root causes, and work together to give everyone a fair shot at a healthier life.”

For more than 40 years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working with others to build a national Culture of Health enabling everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives.

The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute advances health and well-being for all by developing and evaluating interventions and promoting evidence-based approaches to policy and practice at the local, state, and national levels. The Institute works across the full spectrum of factors that contribute to health. A focal point for health and health care dialogue within the University of Wisconsin-Madison and beyond, and a convener of stakeholders, the Institute promotes an exchange of expertise between those in academia and those in the policy and practice arena. The Institute leads the work on the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps and the RWJF Culture of Health Prize.