National survey gathering local body composition data - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

National survey gathering local body composition data

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HERMISTON, OR - We looked into where lawmakers, doctors, and even the CDC get some of their statistics. This year, some of that data will come from right here in our area.

Umatilla County is part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and our own Tracci Dial went down to Hermiston to check it out.

A team of 35 workers have taken up residence for a while at Umatilla County's old fairgrounds.

"We do have people that have said they think we're a scam or they don't think we're legit," said Janis Eklund, a CDC study manager.

But this is about as legit as it comes, in the health care field.

"This machine is not going to take an image of your liver," Eklund said. "It's going to send ultrasound waves from these wands to your liver and back."

Cutting edge technology fills mobile exam units, like a liver ultrasound instead of an invasive biopsy. 

Another state-of-the-art exam is a fully body composition scan: body mass index, bone density...the works.

Some of these instruments aren't available anywhere around here.

"It's all free. There is some financial incentive for participating. These test results can then be taken to their primary care physician."

In all, the exams could equate to more than $4,000 worth of medical testing. So, why do the surveyors need this in-depth information, and what is it for?

"It may help you remember what you ate by thinking about what you were doing, who you were with...what you were doing like working, watching television," said Jim Setzer, Umatilla County Public Health director. "Whenever you see anything about what America is eating, it comes from the data collected here."

The workers have used statistics and the latest census results to identify about 460 Umatilla County residents of all ages to take part. About 350 have so far agreed.

Unfortunately, volunteers aren't accepted. People selected have been specifically chosen to mirror the nationwide survey's demographics to get the most accurate data possible.