The nation’s most comprehensive study of the health and nutritional status of Americans is being conducted in Jefferson Parish through December 18, 2004. In Jefferson Parish, researchers with the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) are working out of mobile examination centers to gather health-related data from a select group of citizens. 

The survey is a federally mandated study directed by the Centers for Disease Control that provides information about the health status of our nation’s citizens. Each year, approximately 7,000 randomly selected residents in 15 counties or parishes across the country have the opportunity to participate in the survey. Residents in Jefferson Parish will be contacted at random and asked if they would like to participate.

“We are urging those who are called to participate in the survey,” said Dr. Cassandra D. Youmans, regional medical director with the Department of Health and Hospitals’ Office of Public Health. “Citizens who participate will be helping researchers to determine the prevalence of major diseases and risk factors for diseases that will directly affect U.S. health care policy and advance medical knowledge.”

The NHANES survey has been conducted for more than 40 years and provides annual estimates on a range of diseases such as the number of Americans who have heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, respiratory disease and other conditions.

Individuals selected to participate will represent the U.S. population of all ages, with a special emphasis on adolescents, pregnant women and older Americans. Participants will first be interviewed in their homes. Following the interview, a team of health professionals will examine participants in the mobile unit. All participants will receive a focused examination by a physician, as well as a dietary interview, body measurement and dental examination. There is also a fitness test, where many of the participants will be asked to walk on a treadmill to gauge their cardiovascular health. Exactly what tests and procedures are done depends upon the age of the participant.

No medical care is provided in the mobile exam center, but medical and dental reports of the findings are made available to the participants. All individual information collected in the survey is kept strictly confidential, and privacy is protected by public law.