BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - When a doctor advises a patient how high or low cholesterol should be, or determines if a child's growth is normal, they rely on national data meticulously collected by researchers for guidance.
However, before it can be used in the clinic setting, that data must first be collected through the CDC's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey or NHANES.
"We basically measure the health of the nation. We've been doing it for 50 years. It's an on going process," said study manager Jacque DeMatteis.
Mobile units that act like a doctor's office on wheels will travel to 15 counties nationwide every year and give thousands of people a head to exam. Participants are chosen by statisticians based on Census data. At the end of two years, all those surveyed will accurately represent every demographic in the U.S.
The exams take a few hours, and cover everything from blood pressure and blood work to bone density, dental health and eating habits. The data collected is then used by researchers to create vital health statistics and guidelines. The results have an impact on everything from vaccines to diet recommendations.
"Many of those things, once they've been identified, corrective measures can be taken and improvements can be made," said DeMatteis. "It's important because it's the only way that researchers and the medical community can get information."
All personal information is kept confidential, and participants are given their results to share with their own physician. Participants are compensated for their time. The survey will continue in Baton Rouge through April.
If chosen to participate, you will be contacted by CDC representatives who will be identified with official badges.
More information can be found here.