CDC comes to Dallas for national check-up

Each year, teams from the Centers for Disease Control travel the country collecting health information.

The teams use what they learn to develop health policies and programs geared to specific communities. This year, the survey has come to Dallas County.

“It’s a program that is designed to assess the status health and nutritional status of the U.S. population,” explained Baldomar Gomez with the CDC.

The CDC exam involves what the nation's health looks like in 15 counties nationwide. About 300 people are randomly selected for a comprehensive physical exam.

“We do very detailed lab work,” Gomez said. “The lab work that we conduct… if it were to be conducted in private industry, it has a cost of over $3500.”

Interim Health Director Ganesh Shivaramaiyer calls the work significant.

“It helps shape new policies by identifying trends,” he said. “It also helps in prevalence tracking and prevalence estimates.”

“Estimates of the prevalence of important diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and other very many important chronic diseases,” Gomez said.

It’s been in place for 55 years, but it’s been more than a decade since Dallas County has been in the CDC doctor’s office. The annual health check has shaped new policies leading to the removal of lead from gasoline and paint.

What and how we eat has practical application. It’s used to create pediatric growth charts and helps the garment industry make adjustments to clothes sizing. It's also how the CDC knows one-third of us eat fast food or pizza every day.

The national check-up includes everyone from expectant mothers to elderly.

“We're gonna be able to cull that information with the rest of the counties to then give us a broad perspective of the health and nutritional status of the United States,” Shivaramaiyer said.