County among unhealthiest in Miss.

Published 12:04 am Saturday, April 7, 2012

NATCHEZ — Adams County is among the top 10 unhealthiest counties in Mississippi, a position local officials say is unacceptable.

Adams County is ranked 73 out of the 82 counties in Mississippi in the County Health Rankings report released Tuesday by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

According to the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps project’s website, the report assesses the overall health of nearly every county in all 50 states, using a standard way to measure how healthy people are and how long they live.

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The report also considers factors that affect people’s health within four categories: health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment. This year’s report includes several new measures, such as how many fast food restaurants are in a county and levels of physical inactivity among residents.

Local officials say Adams County’s position among the most unhealthy counties in the country’s unhealthiest state is unacceptable.

County Supervisors President Darryl Grennell and Mayor Jake Middleton both said the city and county need to unite for a comprehensive effort to educate residents on healthy living.

“It is very disturbing when you are No. 73 out of 82,” Grennell said. “The city and the county definitely need to develop some type of plan to promote health and wellness. We have got to do something.”

Grennell and Middleton said they both believed the planned recreation complex would be ideal to support several different health programs.

“Hopefully, once we get the new recreation complex, we can incorporate some new programs and have the facilities to offer those types of things,” Middleton said.

Grennell said the county supervisors supported a walk-a-thon several years ago but did not continue it as an annual event.

“We should try to have more events like that and help educate people on healthier lifestyles and proper diet and exercise,” Grennell said.

Middleton said he intends to ask local gyms to partner with the city for a healthy living initiative to offer membership discounts or special promotions for city employees.

For now, Middleton said the city has many available recreational resources for residents including tennis and basketball courts, golf and the Natchez Senior Center indoor swimming pool.

“The facilities are there, whether you decide to use them is up to you,” he said.

The county health report named DeSoto, Lafayette, Lamar, Rankin and Oktibbeha counties as the top five healthiest counties in the state. Wilkinson, Marion, Tunica, Tallahatchie and Quitman rounded out the bottom five.

To view the complete list of county health rankings, visit