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For the chosen

CDC conducting health survey in Whiteside County

ROCK FALLS – This is not a scam.

In fact, if someone comes knocking at your door, asking nosy questions about your health, you might want to answer them: It will be good for you, and good for the country.

About 40 workers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are in Whiteside County, asking questions for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey – information the CDC uses to get a sense of how healthy residents are across the nation, and where problem areas may appear.

Over the years, results have been used for overviews and predictions on issues such as obesity, cholesterol, hypertension, blood lead levels, osteoporosis and dietary intake.

Here's how it works:

All counties in the U.S. are divided into 15 groups, based on their characteristics, and one county from each group is selected for the study each year. Twenty to 24 household groups are formed in each county, and all of the houses or apartments within those groups are identified, then a sample of about 30 households are selected within each group.

Interviewers, photo IDs in hand, go to each selected household to ask for information such as the age, race, and gender of everyone in the household, and about their health, disease history, and diet, then a computer algorithm randomly selects some, all, or none, of the household members to be screened.

Anything said during this interview is confidential.

In Whiteside County, interviewers hope to get about 632 people, give or take, to participate, Sherwin Bates, the NHANES senior study manager, said Thursday.

By now, those identified as potential participants should have received a letter explaining how the survey works and what they can expect.

(Not sure if you got one? Think you might have tossed it out with the junk mail? Click here to read a copy of the letter)

Those eligible for the free health screenings will be able to pick a time and day convenient for them. Exams begin June 8 in the four trailers set up at the Whiteside County Health Department Community Health Clinic, 1300 W. Second St.

The CDC is making it as easy as possible for people to participate: The agency will pay things like transportation or mileage costs, and child or elder daycare costs, and not only will those screened be paid a nontaxable cash gift – $125 for adults, $90 for children – but each also will get an immediate, preliminary report on his or her results, and later, a full report.

Those free screenings provide more information about your overall health and the health of your family than you ever would get at a routine doctor’s visit, the CDC says.

All told, they are worth about $3,500, Bates said, adding that participation will in no way affect anyone's benefits.

Also, names will not be associated with answers – participants' responses are kept confidential – and the information gathered is not shared with others.

The study ends July 1.

About the survey

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey is a program of studies designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children nationwide. The survey is unique in that it combines interviews and physical examinations.

NHANES is a major program of the National Center for Health Statistics which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is responsible for producing vital and health statistics for the nation. It has been in existence since 1960 and has surveyed more than 190,000 people.

NHANES was born out of the 1956 National Health Survey Act, which authorized a survey to provide current statistical data on the amount, distribution, and effects of illness and disability in the United States.

Go to www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/index.htm to learn more.

Still have questions? You can call the national Center for Health Statistics in Maryland at 800-232-4636.

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