For more than a half century, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has checked on the health of thousands of Americans as a means of understanding the overall well-being of the nation and setting policy to improve it.
The large on-going study, called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, or NHANES, will visit Baltimore County beginning March 18 and officials are hoping residents will agree to participate.
The county is one of 15 visited every year to get a snapshot of the nation's health. Chosen at random, thousands of people will be asked to answer questions and then submit to a physical in one of the CDC's mobile health units.
The results are kept confidential, though the information is provided to the subjects so they may seek follow-up care if needed.
People will tell them about their hearing, bones, breathing and blood pressure, for example.
The results will also provide the CDC with data on how many people have heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, hypertension, respiratory disease and other illnesses.
Results have been used to establish weight and cholesterol levels standards, among others.
“NHANES serves as the nation’s ‘health check-up,’ going into communities to collect health information throughout the country,” said Charles Rothwell, director of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. “The survey is a unique resource for health information, and without it we would lack important knowledge about major health conditions.”