Commissioner Novello Lauds National Health and Nutrition Survey Aimed at Promoting Healthy Lifestyles

Commissioner Novello Urges New Yorkers to Participate in Six–Week Study

Albany, June 13, 2001 – State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. today lauded one of the nation's most comprehensive health and nutrition studies as an important initiative that will help strengthen access to primary and preventive health care for all New Yorkers. Dr. Novello said that the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which is conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will provide important information to help states target public health prevention strategies.

"The CDC's national health and nutrition study provides critical health–related information on a number of issues such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, among others and will be used by health care professionals to ensure that the health–related needs of New Yorkers, and Americans as a whole, are being appropriately addressed," Commissioner Novello said. "I urge all New Yorkers chosen for this national study to voluntarily participate. You are doing New York and the nation a great service."

"Governor Pataki is committed to improving the health and well being of New Yorkers and the results of this survey will hopefully do just that," said Kenneth J. Ringler, Jr., Commissioner of the New York State Office of General Services (OGS). "Through Governor Pataki's direction and leadership, OGS is pleased to be able provide space at the Harriman State Campus that is convenient for the participants and equipped to accommodate the needs of the mobile examination center. We are proud to help play a role in making this project a success."

Dr. Novello said that New York State recently utilized data collected in a NHANES study indicating an upward trend in the number of children who are considered obese or overweight to strengthen its comprehensive, statewide Eat Well Play Hard initiative to promote healthy lifestyles among New York's children and families. The survey data is helping shape public policy for the benefit of Americans nationwide.

Recent NHANES data indicates that an estimated 13 percent of children ages 6–11 years and 14 percent of adolescents ages 12–19 years are overweight, and that 61 percent of all adults living in the U.S. are considered overweight.

"NHANES is very much like a health exam center on wheels, effectively traveling into communities to get real, concrete data on Americans who voluntarily participate," said CDC Director Jeffrey Koplan. "It truly is a unique resource for health information in this country, and without it we wouldn't have data on a number of important health conditions."

Each year, approximately 5,000 randomly–selected residents in 15 counties nationwide are chosen to voluntarily participate in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). As part of this year's national survey, approximately 930 New Yorkers in Albany (464) and Orange (466) counties have been selected to voluntarily participate in the initiative – representing more than 18 percent of all participants selected nationwide by the CDC.

The CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has been conducting this national survey for more than 40 years, thereby providing valuable information to the public concerning the prevalence of chronic diseases among Americans and the risk factors associated with heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, respiratory illness, tuberculosis and other health–related conditions.

The information gathered in the NHANES study will be used by public health officials, and physicians to develop sound health policies, direct and design health programs and services, and expand the health knowledge for the nation.

In the past, NHANES data has been used as the basis for such successful public health programs as the national lead abatement effort in the 1980s and the more recent creation of a standardized growth chart for use by pediatricians to track the physical growth of children nationwide.

Individuals selected for the survey represent the U.S. population of all ages. Special emphasis in the new NHANES will be on the health of adolescents, pregnant women and older Americans. In addition to covering the health of the total population, profiles of the health of specific groups, e.g., African–Americans and Latinos will be developed.

All participants will receive a focused examination by a physician, as well as a dietary interview, body measurement and dental examination. There is also a fitness test, where many participants will walk on a treadmill while technicians assess their cardiovascular health. The various tests and procedures depend upon the age and current health condition of the participant.

No medical care is provided directly in the examination center, but medical and dental reports of findings are given to each participant who requests them. All information collected on participants during the survey remains confidential.

NHANES mobile examination center will conduct its study for the next six weeks (June 14 – August 1) at the Harriman State Campus, 1221 Washington Avenue, Albany (Parking Lot AB adjacent to the Verizon and Capital District Physicians Health Plan – CDPHP – office buildings).

6/13/01–62 OPA