Tusculum hosting physical exams for about 700 Greene County residents in federal initiative

GREENEVILLE – About 700 Greene County residents are scheduled to participate in physical exams on the Tusculum University campus starting in late September and continuing into early November.

Setup for the exams began Monday, Sept. 13, with the placement of trailers next to the Indoor Practice Facility on Tusculum University’s Greeneville campus.

This is an initiative the federal government launched in the late 1960s to learn more about the nation’s health. The results can potentially lead to recommended policy changes designed to improve people’s well-being.

Tom Kennedy, senior engineer for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, said the federal government has gone to 15 counties in different parts of the United States each year for the last 50 years to conduct these surveys. The counties are randomly selected.

“The aggregate information is all public data, so universities, counties and states have access to it,” Kennedy said. “That leads to spinoff research because those organizations are looking at the data in a way the federal government might not.”

Setup for the exams began Monday, Sept. 13, with the placement of trailers next to the Indoor Practice Facility on the Greeneville campus.

Among the tests people will undergo are hearing, vision, liver elasticity and bone densitometry. In addition, they receive height, weight and blood pressure checks and blood work. Participants are also quizzed about their diet.

An example of a change that occurred as a result of the exams occurred in the mid-1980s when the government learned women’s diets did not have enough folic acid, Kennedy said. He said low amounts of folic acid are strongly associated with birth defects. The Food and Drug Administration used information from surveys conducted then to require that bread and cereal manufacturers fortify their products with folic acid. Since then, folic acid in women has risen, and birth defect cases have decreased, he said.

The exams fall under the jurisdiction of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention but are not associated with the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.

“We are pleased to host these exams on our campus and contribute to solutions that will better people’s health,” said Dr. Scott Hummel, Tusculum’s president. “As a university, we welcome and encourage research that leads to a higher quality of life in the communities we serve.”

To learn more, please visit www.cdc.gov/nhanes.