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Dataset: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)

Basic Information
Dataset Full Name National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
Dataset Acronym NHANES
Summary The National Center for Health Statistics conducts the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to measure health parameters and the nutritional status of a nationally representative sample of adults and children in the United States. It combines both survey and physical examination data that are conducted and collected at mobile examination centers (MEC) that travel to selected sites throughout the country. The MEC consist of four large trailers that contain all of the diagnostic equipment and personnel necessary to conduct a wide range of both physical and biochemical evaluations. Interviews and physical examinations are conducted to collect the health information. The NHANES interview includes demographic, socioeconomic, dietary, and health-related questions. The examination component consists of medical, dental, and physiological measurements (height, weight, and blood pressure), as well as laboratory tests.
Key Terms Nutrition, CDC, Prevalence, Children, Health, Survey, National
Study Design Cross-Sectional
Data Type(s) Clinical
Sponsoring Agency/Entity

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)

Health Conditions/Disability Measures
Health Condition(s)

Allergies, Alzheimer's/dementia, Anxiety disorders, Arthritis, Blood disorder, Body mass index (BMI)/obesity, Burns, Cancer, Cardiovascular conditions, Chronic pain, Congenital conditions, Depression, Diabetes, Heart attack, Infectious diseases, Kidney/renal condition, Orthopedic conditions, Osteoporosis, Pulmonary disorders, Stroke

Disability Measures

ACS 6 question disability series, Ambulatory disability, Cognitive disability, Developmental disabilities, Functional limitations (ADLs and/or IADLs), Hearing disability, Independent living disability, Intellectual disability, Mental health disability, Physical disability, Self-care disability, Special equipment use/assistive technology, Visual disability, Work limitation

Measures/Outcomes of Interest

Nutritional assessment component: dietary intake, nutrition-related information, anthropometric data, and hematological examination.

Physical examination data: blood samples, and detailed questions regarding demographics, physiological measurements, reproductive health and dental examination.

Risk factor data: smoking, alcohol consumption, sexual practices, drug use, physical fitness and physical activities, weight, heredity factors, environmental exposure.

Sample Population A multi-stage probability sample of non-institutionalized individuals in the United States
Sample Size/Notes 2013-2014: 14,332 screened; 10,175 interviewed; 9,813 examined
Unit of Observation Individual
Continent(s) North America

United States

Geographic Coverage National
Geographic Specificity National
Data Collection
Data Collection Mode

Health interviews are conducted in participants’ homes.

Health measurements are performed in specially-designed and equipped mobile centers. The study team consists of a physician, medical and health technicians, as well as dietary and health interviewer

Years Collected

NHANES I: 1971-1975

NHANES II: 1976–1980

NHANES III: 1988–1994

NHANES 1999-2000, 2001-2002, 2003-2004, 2005-2006, 2007-2008, 2009-2010, 2011-2012, 2013-2014, 2015-2016, 2017-2018, and beyond

Data Collection Frequency Annual (1999-present)
Strengths and Limitations

Sample designed to be representative of the U.S. population of all ages. To produce reliable estimates, the NHANES over-samples persons 60 and older and minority population including African Americans and Hispanics.

Comprehensive test results and measurements including respiratory health, bone health, visual, and hearing exams. Provides data for estimates of previously undiagnosed conditions.

Data can be used to determine the national standards for various physiological measurements including height, weight, and blood pressure.

Data can be used to determine the prevalence of major diseases and associated risk factors for diseases including environmental exposures.


No participant follow-up. Some NHANES data elements are limited access, or restricted data (https://wwwn.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/search/datapage.aspx?Component=Non-Public&CycleBeginYear=2013).

Restricted data require an application to access at a NCHS Research Data Center (https://www.cdc.gov/rdc/). Sample does not include people working in U.S. armed forces or those staying outside of the country.

Data Details
Primary Website https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/index.htm
Data Access https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/nhanes_questionnaires.htm
Data Access Requirements

Public Use Dataset

Data use agreement, No cost (limited access datasets)

Summary Tables/Reports https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/nhanes_products.htm
Data Components

Demographics files: contain survey design variables such as weights, strata and primary sampling units,and demographic variables.

Dietary files: dietary intake variables including: foods, beverages, and dietary supplements.

Examination files: information collected through physical exams and dental exams.

Laboratory files: results from analyses of blood, urine, hair, air, tuberculosis skin test, household dust and water specimens.

Questionnaire files: data collected through household and mobile examination center interviews.

Limited access: restricted access data including DNA

Similar/Related Dataset(s)

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) Longitudinal Study (data collection pilot began in 2017) :


Selected Papers
Other Papers

NHANES Publications and Products:


NHANES selected bibliography 1999-present:



NHANES tutorials:


Related Repositories

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The Rehabilitation Research Cross-dataset Variable Catalog has been developed through the Center for Large Data Research & Data Sharing in Rehabilitation (CLDR). The Center for Large Data Research and Data Sharing in Rehabilitation involves a consortium of investigators from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Cornell University's Yang Tan Institute (YTI), and the University of Michigan. The CLDR is funded by NIH - National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, through the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. (P2CHD065702).

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