The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the most comprehensive survey of the health and nutritional status of the U.S. population, is underway in Marengo County through April 20. This is an “invitation-only opportunity” in which randomly selected participants will receive a free and comprehensive health and nutrition evaluation. Respondents will be compensated for their time, travel and other expenses of up to $125.
“We encourage every eligible resident who has been selected for the survey to agree to participate,” said Alabama Department of Public Health’s Southwestern District Administrator Chad Kent. “All information collected is confidential, as required by law. If you are chosen, you will have been contacted by letter.”
A team of health professionals, nutritionists and health technicians ask respondents to first participate in a health interview in the respondent’s home followed by a health exam in the NHANES mobile examination center. Professionals will have a photo ID badge from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While no medical care is provided directly, a report on physical findings is given to each participant along with an explanation from survey medical staff. All information collected in the survey is kept confidential and privacy is protected.
“NHANES serves as the nation’s ‘health check-up,’ by going into communities to collect health information throughout the country. The survey provides a wealth of important data about many of the major health and nutritional issues affecting the country,” according to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Director Jennifer H. Madans.
All counties in the United States have a chance to be selected for the NHANES, and Marengo County was one of the 15 counties chosen to be part of this initiative. NHANES provides important data on public health problems from a national perspective. Each year, 5,000 residents across the nation have the chance to participate in the latest NHANES, conducted by the NCHS, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“For the most part, people are very receptive,” George Dixon, study manager, said. “We may ask for some demographic information to determine if any people in the household are selected. We assist participants with transportation and even babysitting if needed.”
NHANES has had a prominent role in improving the health of all people living in the U.S. for the past 55 years. Public health officials, legislators and physicians use the information gathered by NHANES to develop sound health policies, direct and design health programs and services, and expand the health knowledge for the nation. NHANES findings provide critical health-related information on a number of issues such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In addition, NHANES data are used to produce national references and are used to create standardized growth charts for pediatricians across the country.
The comprehensive data collected by NHANES impact the everyday lives of the population of all ages, on everything from air quality to the vaccinations given by doctors, to the low fat and “light” foods now routinely offered in grocery stores.