Halifax County continues to rank among the least healthy counties in Virginia, according to the annual County Health Ranking Report released Tuesday by the Robert Wood Foundation.

The county ranked 114th out of 133 Virginia counties after ranking 115th last year.

Neighboring Mecklenburg County ranked 109th for health outcomes, Pittsylvania County ranked 68th and Charlotte County ranked 116th, according to the 2019 health rankings report.

In Halifax County, the top five leading causes of death for those under the age of 75 included malignant neoplasms, heart diseases, accidents, diabetes mellitus and chronic lower respiratory diseases.

A total of 21 percent of adults in Halifax County were reported to be in fair or poor health having an average of 4.2 poor physical health days and an average of 3.8 poor mental health days.

The 2019 report states 19 percent of adults smoke, 32 percent of adults are obese, 28 percent are physically inactive with 45 percent having access to exercise opportunities, 14 percent excessively drink, 429.9 have sexually transmitted infections, and it reported 39 teen births from 2011-2017 of those 15 to 19 years old.

Halifax County had a food environment index of 6.7, with 10 being the best.

The food environment index is based on access to health foods, low income, proximity to a grocery store and access to a reliable source of food during the past year using information from the Community Population Survey, Bureau of Labor Statistics and American Community Survey.

In 2019, the average value for counties was 7.5, and most counties fell between about 6.9 and 8.2.

The 2019 County Health Ranking Report also stated 27 percent of vehicle crash deaths in Halifax County were alcohol related based off data from 2013 to 2017.

In 2017, approximately 10,900 Americans were killed in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes. Drivers between the ages of 21 and 24 caused 27 percent of all alcohol-impaired deaths.

This year’s analyses show that a lack of opportunity for a safe, secure and affordable home is tied to poor health. 

The rankings report calls attention to key drivers in health such as severe housing cost burden and its connection to other factors like children living in poverty.

Among Virginia’s children living in poverty, 55 percent were living in a household that spends more than half of its income on housing.

High housing costs make it difficult for families to afford other essentials that contribute to good health, such as healthy food, medicine or transportation to work or school.

Halifax County had a severe housing problem ranking at 13 percent, with Virginia having a ranking of 15 percent.

The severe housing problem is the percentage of households with at least one of four housing problems including overcrowding, high housing costs, lack of kitchen facilities or lack of plumbing facilities.

The report also stated 5.2 percent of individuals 16 and older in Halifax County are unemployed and looking for work with 24 percent of children in Halifax County living in poverty and 37 percent of children living in single-parent households.

The median household income is $42,600, according to the report.

“The County Health Rankings Report is as good as the action it inspires,” said Virginia State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA. “Our 35 local health districts are engaged in more than 500 unique activities that seek to improve community health in Virginia. The five-year trends and racial breakdowns will help us to prioritize for equitable and just policies and programs.”

According to the 2019 rankings, the five healthiest counties in Virginia, starting with the healthiest, are Loudoun County, followed by Arlington County, Fairfax County, Falls Church City and Albemarle County.

The five counties in the poorest health, starting with the least healthy, are Petersburg City, Covington City, Galax City, Franklin City and Martinsville City.

The rankings are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org.