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close this book Food Composition Data: A User's Perspective (1987)
close this folder Other considerations
close this folder Dietary assessment methods used by the national health and nutrition examination surveys (NHANES)
View the document (introductory text)
View the document Introduction
View the document Design of NHANES II
View the document Major nutrition-related components of NHANES II
View the document Uses of dietary data
View the document Plans for future NHANES
View the document Conclusion

Design of NHANES II

Design of NHANES II

In approaching the design of NHANES I and II, many factors had to be considered. I will discuss here the design specifications that were considered in planning the most recent national survey, NHANES II.

NHANES II was planned to be a profitability sample of the civilian, non-institutionalized population of the United States for persons of 6 months to 74 years. Three subgroups in the population were of special interest for nutritional assessment because it was thought they were at higher risk of malnutrition: pre-school children (6 months to 5 years), the aged (60 to 74 years), and the poor (persons below the poverty level as defined by the US Bureau of the Census). These groups were oversampled to improve the reliability of the statistics generated. Although women of child-bearing age were also considered to be at risk of malnutrition, no oversampling was necessary. The total sample size desired was 21,000 examined persons, and the number of sample persons selected in each primary sampling unit (PSU) was to be between 300 and 600.

The data collection mechanism used in NHANES I was used again in NHANES II with appropriate modifications. An initial interview was conducted in the household in which sociodemographic information and medical histories were collected. Sample persons were scheduled to visit mobile examination centres in which the physical examination, dietary interview, anthropometry, and other procedures and tests were conducted. At any time during the survey period, two centres were operating in different locations while a third was being serviced or relocated. The mobile examination centres provide a controlled, standardized environment for the examinations and tests. The examinations and tests were conducted by a small, well-trained staff which moved from site to site with the mobile examination centres.

Because of the small number of mobile examination centres, the logistical constraints involved in moving and setting up the centres, the large number of sample persons, and the length of the examination, the total period for data collection was planned to be three to four years. The average length of an individual examination was two to three hours, but it varied depending on the age of the examinee. The examination for pre-school children lasted no more than two hours, while the time for an adult did not exceed three hours.

The survey was designed to produce statistics for the four broad geographic regions of the United States and for the total population by age, sex, race, and income classifications. In the end, a total of 20,322 individuals were interviewed and examined in NHANES II in 64 primary sampling units. Because not all individuals underwent all aspects of the interview and examination, appropriate non-response adjustments were made. These non-response adjustments bring the sum of the final weights into close alignment with the age, sex, and race estimates of the Census Bureau at the mid-point of the survey.