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Dataset: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES )

Basic Information
Dataset full name: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
Dataset acronym NHANES
Summary The National Center for Health Statistics conducts National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to measure health parameters and nutritional status of a nationally representitive sample of adults and children in the United States. It combines both survey and physical examination data that is conducted and collected at mobile examination centers (MEC) that travel to selected sites throughout the country. The MEC consist of four large trailers that contain all of the diagnostic equipment and personnel necessary to conduct a wide range of both physical and biochemical evaluations. Interviews and physical examinations are conducted to collect the health information. The NHANES interview includes demographic, socioeconomic, dietary, and health-related questions. The examination component consists of medical, dental, and physiological measurements (height, weight, and blood pressure), as well as laboratory tests.
Key Terms Nutrition, CDC, Prevalence, Children, Health, Survey, National
Study Design Cross-sectional
Data Type(s) Clinical & Survey
Sponsoring Agency/Entity Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)
Health conditions/Disability measures
Health condition(s) Anemia, Cardiovascular disease, Diabetes, Eye diseases, Hearing loss, Infectious diseases, Kidney disease, Obesity, Oral health, Osteoporosis, Respiratory disease (asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema), Sexually transmitted diseases
Disability Measures Physical functioning, hearing impairment, visual impairment
Measures/outcomes of interest
Topics Nutritional assessment component includes: dietary intake, nutrition-related information, anthropometric data, and hematological examination. Physical examination data includes: blood samples, and detailed questions regarding demographics, physiological measurements, reproductive health and dental examination. Risk factor data includes: smoking, alcohol consumption, sexual practices, drug use, physical fitness and physical activities, weight, heredity factors, environmental exposure.
Sample Population A multi-stage probability sample of non-institutionalized individuals in the United States
Sample Size/Notes 2005-06:12,862, 2007-08: 12,943, 2009-10:13,272
Unit of Observation Individual
Geographic Coverage National
Geographic specificity National
Data Collection
Data Collection Mode Health interviews are conducted in participants’ homes. Health measurements are performed in specially-designed and equipped mobile centers. The study team consists of a physician, medical and health technicians, as well as dietary and health interviewers.
Years Collected NHANES I:1971-1975,NHANES II :1976–1980, NHANES III :1988–1994, 2005-06, 2007-08, 2009-10
Data Collection Frequency Annually since 1999
Strengths and limitations
Strengths Sample designed to be representitive of the U.S. population of all ages. To produce reliable estimates NHANES over-samples persons 60 and older and minority population including African Americans, and Hispanics. Comprehensive test results and measurements including respiratory health, bone health, visual and hearing exams. Provides data for estimates of previously undiagnosed conditions. Data can be used to determine the national standards for various physiological measurements including height, weight, and blood pressure. Data can be used to determine the prevalence of major diseases and associated risk factors for diseases including environmental exposures.
Limitations No participant follow up. Some NHANES data elements are restricted data ( Restricted data require an application to access at a NCHS Research Data Center ( Sample does not include people working in US armed forces or those staying outside of the country.
Data details
Primary Website
Data Access
Data Access Requirements Public Use Dataset
Summary Tables/reports
Dataset components (where applicable) Demographics files: contain survey design variables such as weights, strata and primary sampling units,and demographic variables.
Dietary files: dietary intake variables including: foods, beverages, and dietary supplements.
Examination files: information collected through physical exams and dental exams.
Laboratory files: results from analyses of blood, urine, hair, air, tuberculosis skin test, household dust and water specimens.
Questionnaire files: data collected through household and mobile examination center interviews.
Limited Access: Restricted access data including DNA
Selected papers
Technical NHANES data use web based tutorials:
Other Papers NHANES Selected Bibliography 1999-present:

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The Rehabilitation Research Cross-dataset Variable Catalog has been developed through the Center for Large Data Research & Data Sharing in Rehabilitation (CLDR). The Center for Large Data Research and Data Sharing in Rehabilitation involves a consortium of investigators from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Cornell University's Yang Tan Institute (YTI), and the University of Michigan. The CLDR is funded by NIH - National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, through the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. (P2CHD065702).

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