EASLEY — After weeks of preparations, the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey is kicking off at Tri-County Technical Campus in Easley.
The survey, which is designed to assess the health and nutritional status of Americans nationwide, combines interviews with physical examinations to garner a representative sample of the U.S. public as a whole.
Fifteen counties are selected to be sampled by NHANES each year including — for the first time — Pickens County.
“We’re loving it here,” said Study Manager Jacque DeMatteis. “I can’t tell you where we were last, it’s all confidential, but the people down here are just so nice. And traffic? Oh, we’re all loving your (lack of) traffic.”
DeMatteis said that although she was aware some people may be leery of participating (the study is by invitation only) so far Upstate residents seemed open and welcoming to the program and that a representative sample was being collected.
“We’ve had people going door to door for a while and explaining what this is and what we’re doing,” she said. “Studies like these are important because the information we collect is then compiled and shared with health professionals nationwide.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, which operates NHANES, past surveys have provided valuable data to create the growth charts used nationally by pediatricians to evaluate children’s growth. The charts have been adapted and adopted worldwide as a reference standard – and have recently been updated using the latest NHANES figures.
In addition, blood lead data collected was used in developing policy to eliminate lead from gasoline and in food and soft drink cans.
“Recent survey data indicate the policy has been even more effective than originally envisioned, with a decline in elevated blood lead levels of more than 70 percent since the 1970s,” the CDC states.
“The people that come in here, today they’re all volunteers, they’re going to get tested on things that go way past what they would just get in their doctor’s office,” said DeMatteis.
The four portable interconnected trailers located in the TCT parking lot house everything from exam rooms to a complete medical laboratory. X-rays, a full body scan and interview spaces are all inside.
One man sat at an interview table recalling every single thing he had eaten or drank over a 24 hour period. Marked containers, glasses and bean-bags helped the participant to visually show in ounces how much he had consumed.
Although participants receive no medical treatment in the study, they are copied on all medical reports and findings discovered as well as compensated for their time.
“These patients will remain anonymous but their results will go on to help people across the country,” said DeMatteis.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.