NHANES hosts ‘dry run’ for upcoming extensive health, nurtrition survey

Published 7:25 pm Monday, April 4, 2011

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) Open House on Monday was an opportunity for the community to visit the Mobile Examination Center and learn more about the ongoing health survey being conducted in Pike County.

NHANES is the most comprehensive study of the health and nutrition status in the United States. Pike County was chosen to be one of 15 counties across the nation to participate in the survey being conducted by the Centers for Disease and Preventions and National Center for Health Statistics.

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Janis Eklund, study manager, said the county selections are scientific samplings based on demographics.

“In the survey, Pike County will represent all of the counties in the United States that are just like it,” Eklund said.

Four hundred county residents of all ages were selected for the survey. NHANES representatives began knocking on doors on March 17 to enlist participants.

Participation in the survey is voluntary.

Several Pike County residents agreed to be “dry run participants” at the open house so visitors had an opportunity to see what goes on behind closed doors.

“Once the actual survey examinations begin, everything is completely confidential, Eklund said.

Dawn Railey, director of sales for Courtyard and Hampton Inn in Troy, was one of the participants and found the survey center “amazing.”

“The NHANES staff is staying at the Courtyard and I’ve gotten to know them and I wanted to see what the survey is all about,” Railey said.

And, what better way than to participate in the survey?

“It was amazing to be a part of what they do,” she said. “The mobile unit is a medical unit and, from the examination, I learned things that were surprisingly good and some that weren’t so good. Some of the information pointed to heart disease which runs in my family.”

The information gathered by NHANES is used by public health officials, legislators and physicians to develop sound health policies, direct and design health programs and services and expand the health knowledge for the nation.

“Although the information gathered here will be a part of the bigger picture, it will also be at the fingertips of the Pike County Health Department to give us insight to the health conditions and concerns of our community,” Railey said.

As busy as the Mobile Examination Center was Monday, it will be almost like a beehive once the examinations begin. There will be 10 participants at the mobile center and the exams will take between three and four hours depending on the age of the participant.

“At the Mobile Examination Center, the staff is made up of health personnel, including a physician, dentist and nutritionist, and health and lab technicians who use high-tech, state-of-the-art equipment.”

The evaluation process includes an examination by a physician, body measurements and a dietary interview. Depending on age, some participants are eligible for a hearing test, a scan to evaluate body fat, a breathing test and a blood pressure test.

“No medical care is provided at the examination center but a report on the medical findings is given to each participant along with an explanation form the survey medical staff,” Eklund said.

Those who participate in the survey may receive up to $4,255 in free health tests, depending on the tests conducted.