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Report: Halifax County in bad shape

County residents smoke too much, and too many have weight problems, according to data listed in County Health Rankings in Snapshot 2010: Halifax County.

Out of 132 localities in Virginia, Halifax County ranks 119 in total health outcomes, just above the City of Danville, which comes in ranked at 120.

Pittsylvania County ranks 77 out of 132, Mecklenburg County ranks 108, Charlotte County comes in at 97, and Campbell County ranks 42, according to data presented on health factors.

Health factors in County Health Rankings represent what influences the health of a county, including health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment.

Halifax County ranks 117 overall in the commonwealth in health factors or those things that influence the health of a county. County Health Rankings evaluates health factors on the basis of health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment factors.  Also, each of these factors is based on several measures.

The county ranks 117 out of 132 localities in health behavior. A total of 21 percent of county adults reported smoking at least 100 cigarettes and that they currently smoke. That percentage is just over the state percentage of 20 percent.

One-third, or 33 percent, of the county’s adults are considered to be obese, based upon a Body Mass Index of 30 or more. Body Mass Index is a measurement of fat based on height and weight. Statewide, 25 percent of adults are considered to be obese.

Also under health behaviors, the teen birth rate per 1,000 of the female population from 15 to 19 years old is 52 in Halifax County, higher than the state rate of 37.

For social and economic factors, Halifax County ranks at 116 in the state. According to County Health Rankings, about 68 percent of the county’s ninth-graders graduate within four years, about 7 percent less than the statewide average of 75 percent.

Only 12 percent of Halifax County residents age 25 and older hold four-year or higher college degrees compared with 33 percent across Virginia. The county’s unemployment rate is consistently higher than the state average, and the number of county children who are considered to live in poverty is 22 percent, 9 percent above the state rate of 13 percent.

Approximately 11 percent of all the households in Halifax County are single-parent homes, slightly higher than the state rate of 9 percent, statistics show. But the violent crime rate of 59 per 100,000 of population is much better than the state rate of 278 per 100,000.

The county ranks 84 statewide in physical environment, with no annual air pollution-particulate days and only one air pollution-ozone day. Access to healthy foods is rated at 20 percent for Halifax County residents, compared to 35 percent for the state.

Halifax County ranks 114 in mortality as measured by the years of potential life lost before age 75.

On the other hand, the county ranks 122 out of 132 in morbidity, or how healthy people feel while they are alive. In Halifax County, 20 percent of the residents report fair or poor health, higher than the 13 percent rate statewide.

Other factors that indicate morbidity include poor physical health days, poor mental health days and low birth weight.

County residents reported 5.1 poor physical health days and 4.1 poor mental health days, higher than the 3.2 reported statewide.

Approximately 10.8 percent of the county’s live births were considered low birth weight because the newborn child weighed less than 2,500 grams. Again, the county’s rate was higher than the state’s 8.1 percent low birth weight rate.

Halifax County fares a bit better in clinical care, ranking 60 out of 132 localities across the state. Only 13 percent of the county population under the age of 65 has no health insurance, compared with 15 percent across the commonwealth. Other access to care measures also compare favorably with state ratings.

Health outcomes top localities include (in order) Fairfax County, Arlington County, Loudoun County, Albemarle County and York County.
Health factors top localities include (in order) Loudoun County, James City County, York County, Albemarle County and Roanoke County.

Buchanan County ranks last in the state in health outcomes, and the City of Petersburg ranked last in health factors. Danville ranked next to last in the state in health factors.