National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

Information Collected

There are three main parts to this survey: the doorstep screener, the home interview and the health examination.

The doorstep Screener (takes about 5 minutes to complete)

An NHANES interviewer will come to your home to talk to you about the survey. This interviewer should present an identification badge, which identifies this person as a health representative working on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.  The interviewer will then ask you a few questions to see if you qualify to participate.


The Home Interview

During this interview, you will be asked questions about your health, disease history, and diet. Anything you say during this interview is confidential.

Image of child with parent and doctor

The Health Examination

All the health exam tests are performed in the Mobile Examination Center (MEC) that contains high-tech medical equipment. The MEC is situated in a location convenient for participants. The NHANES staff can help you with transportation to the MEC if needed.

Health Measurements are based on age and gender. Below is a list of the health measurements performed on the MEC:

  • Physician’s exam – all ages
  • Blood pressure – ages 8 years and older
  • Bone density – ages 8 years and older
  • Liver Ultrasound – ages 12 years and older
  • Condition of teeth and gums – ages 1 year and older
  • Hearing test – ages 6-19 years and 70 years and older
  • Height, weight, and other body measures – all ages


Lab Tests on Urine: (3 years and older)

  • Kidney function tests – ages 6 years and older
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STD)
    • Chlamydia and gonorrhea – ages 14-39
    • Trichomonas – ages 14-59
  • Exposure to environmental chemicals such as Arsenic and Nickel – selected persons ages 6 and older
  • Pregnancy test – females 12 years and older


Lab Tests on Blood: (1 year and older)

  • Anemia – all ages
  • Total Cholesterol and HDL – ages 6 years and older
  • Triglycerides and LDL – selected participants, ages 12 and older
  • Glucose measures – ages 12 years and older
  • Infectious diseases – ages 2 years and older
  • Kidney function tests – ages 12 years and older
  • Lead – 1 year and older
  • Cadmium – 1 year and older
  • Mercury – ages 1 and older
  • Liver function tests – ages 12 years and older
  • Nutrition status – 1 year and older
  • Infectious Diseases
    • Hepatitis B virus (ages 2 and up)
    • Hepatitis C viruses (ages 6 and up)
    • Cytomegalovirus – ages 1-5 years
    • Genital Herpes – ages 14-49 years
    • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) – ages 18-49 years
    • Human papillomavirus (HPV) – ages 14-59 years
  • Exposure to environmental chemicals – selected persons ages 6 and older


Other Lab Tests

  • Vaginal swabs (self-administered), females ages 14-59 years
  • Penile swabs (self-administered), males ages 14-59 years


Private Health Interviews

  • Health status – ages 12 and older
  • Questions about drug and alcohol use – ages 12 years and older (No drug testing will be done)
  • Nutrition – all ages
  • Reproductive health – females ages 12 years and older
  • Questions about sexual experience – ages 14-69 years
  • Tobacco use – ages 12 years and older


After the Visit to the NHANES Examination Center

  • Persons asked about the foods they eat will receive a phone call 3-10 days after their exam for a similar interview, all ages.

Then participants, or an adult for participants 1-15 years old, will be asked about food shopping habits.

Page last reviewed: October 19, 2018