NHANES in Action

Data derived from NHES and NHANES surveys have been instrumental in the development and implementation of a number of health-related guidelines and reforms and public-policy initiatives. Examples include:

  • Growth Charts: Anthropometric data derived from NHES and NHANES has been instrumental in the development of growth charts used by pediatricians and health clinics across the United States and around the world.
  • Vitamin and Mineral Fortification of Food: Nutrient intake data derived from NHANES has aided in the determination of population groups at nutritional risk and spawned measures to address these nutritional inadequacies. For example, nutrient data from the first two NHANES indicated that certain segments of the U.S. population (women of childbearing age, young children and the elderly) were consuming inadequate amounts of iron. This information led to the fortification of grain and cereal products with iron. Similarly, NHANES data provided the additional proof of the connection between folate intake and neural tube defects needed to mandate the fortification of grain and cereal products with folate, a measure that has succeeded in significantly increasing blood folate levels in participants of the most recent (1999-2000) survey.
  • Lead Exposure: It was data derived from early NHANES that provided the first concrete evidence that blood levels of lead among Americans were becoming dangerously high. As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency called for a reduction in production and sales of consumer products containing relatively large amounts lead, most notably gasoline and household paints.

arthritis: inflammation of the joints cancer: uncontrolled cell growth fortification: addition of vitamins and minerals to improve the nutritional content of a food increasing prevalence of obesity in the United States, as well as changes in obesity demographics (e.g., age, ethnicity, gender). Nonetheless, NHANES provides much more than just obesity prevalence data. NHANES issues vital data on the prevalence and correlates of chronic diseases such as arthritis, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, diabetes, gallbladder and kidney diseases, osteoporosis, and cancer. In addition, NHANES supplies important information on the prevalence and trends of risk factors and other key health behaviors, including alcohol use, tobacco use and exposure, drug use, sexual experience, immunization histories, and physical activity. Data from NHANES has been instrumental in the development and implementation of a number of health-related guidelines and reforms and public-policy initiatives, including growth charts for children, folate fortification of grain products, and a reduction in the manufacturing and sales of lead-containing products.

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