Through dietary questionnaires, blood and urine samples and physical exams, a small group of Tarrant County health professionals will help the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention measure the health of the nation.
Tarrant County is one of 15 counties across the country selected to participate in CDC’s annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). This comprehensive survey, in its 55th year, collects data from 5,000 residents in all to gauge the health and nutritional status of the U.S. population, said Nora Martinello, senior study manager.
That information is used by public health officials, doctors and lawmakers in a variety of ways, including identifying health concerns or measuring improvements and creating new policies, programs and services.
“NHANES is a study that we’ve been conducting for over 50 years. We’ve created the growth charts pediatricians use for children and set the blood pressure standards. In the ’70s and ’80s, data from the survey was responsible for getting lead out of gasoline and lead-based paint,” Martinello said.
Starting Saturday, the CDC staff will knockon the doors of about 1,250 pre-selected home addresses across Tarrant County to find 500 survey participants ranging from infants to the elderly. Those addresses have already received invitations in the mail, Martinello said.
The NHANES will set up a mobile examination center on a lot near 1801 Circle Drive in Fort Worth. The study will run through Jan. 28.
After screening for eligibility, participants will receive 120 non-invasive lab tests at no cost to them, a medical report of findings as well as cash stipends from $30 for children to $125 for adults, transportation allowance and community service credit for youth. The mobile exam center also includes a dentist and bone density scanning.
“What I say to them is ‘You’ve just won the medical lottery!’ Who else is going to give you $4,200 worth of free medical testing and pay you and give you community service credit for five hours of your time?” Martinello said. “They get all this valuable information about their own health. We always encourage them, ‘Share this with your physician.’”
Participants can also sign up for additional health tests that come with cash stipends, such as providing urine samples to measure sodium content in their diet. Researchers also hope to glean more information on issues such as macular degeneration and the loss of sense of taste and smell in the elderly.
“If it wasn’t for NHANES data, we wouldn’t know health conditions facing our nation today and what to do to make them better,” Martinello said.
Participants’ identities will be kept confidential, she said.
To learn more about the study, visit www.cdc.gov/nhanes