Hall County health part of national survey

GRAND ISLAND, Neb (KSNB) -- It happens on a regular basis. National health news stories are released based on reports from the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention. But, where do they get their information?

Well, next year's reports will be based in part on the people of Hall County. The county has been selected as one of 15 counties in the country being surveyed. From now through June 11, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey will be assessing the health of at least 400 people selected to be from a unique area.

"So, this county is different than the county I just came from, which was on the West Coast and it will be different than the county I'm going to next which will be on the east coast'" said study manager Janis Eklund of NHANES. "So, it in particular represents all counties like it in the U.S. demographically."

Exams are being done from a traveling medical center now in Grand Island. Four semi trailers attached together form the temporary clinic. A battery of tests including bone scans, liver ultrasounds. diet assessments, blood tests and more, are performed. Results go to a national agency to be combined with other demographically different counties.

"We actually aren't looking for just one thing," said Eklund. "We're actually collecting data to look at the change in health trends through time with the population, especially has we are all aging".

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey goes to different areas every year. It can benefit all Americans. As an example, Eklund points out how at one time gas and paint contained lead.

"Because of people who came through our mobile exam center, their blood lead levels were extremely high," said Eklund. "And we noticed that right away and so changes were made an within a couple of years. If you remember, lead came out of gasoline and lead came out of paint."

Individuals that take part in the surveys will receive a report on their individual findings they can share with their regular doctors. Participants also receive a cash payment for their time.

The survey is expected to be concluded by June 11.