NEWBURYPORT — Starting this weekend, federal health officials will be knocking on doors throughout the area, asking residents to take part in a national health survey that is meant to give a snapshot of the health of Americans.
And for the first time, the survey will also examine a growing area of concern: the eating habits and fitness of children.
The National Center for Health Statistics is in Essex County this week, getting ready to start its survey, which kicks off on Saturday. Officials will be in neighborhoods throughout the greater Newburyport area, knocking on doors and asking residents to answer a simple questionnaire, said Nora Martinello, senior study manager. Postcards are being sent to the homes where the officials will visit.
The initial screening will be used to find volunteers for a more intensive health survey. The agency is looking to find 500 people who meet criteria based on ethnicity, gender and age, she said.
Those who take part in this survey will be asked to fill out a detailed questionnaire that asks questions such as their diet, exercise regimen and family medical history. They will also take part in a medical exam that will be conducted in the agency's mobile medical lab, which will be set up at the Peabody Marriott.
The health exam, which includes a blood sample, takes no more than four hours, said Martinello. Participants are compensated up to $125, plus they are given up to $45 to cover the cost of travel. They also receive the results of their medical tests, an in-depth work-up that includes 120 different blood tests. The comprehensive tests would cost almost $5,000 if administered to a patient through a medical office, said Martinello. All information is kept confidential.
Essex County is one of 15 counties across the nation where the sampling is taking place. The results are used as the basis of an annual health and nutrition survey that has been conducted since 1957 by the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.