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In 1989, the China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS) included 3795 households. In 1991, 1993, 1997, and 2000, the number of households participating was 3616, 3441, 3875, and 4403, respectively. All individuals in each household were surveyed in 1991, 1993, 1997, and 2000 for all data; however, in 1989, health and nutritional data were collected only from preschoolers and adults age 20 to 45.

The 1989 CHNS surveyed 15,917 individuals, and the 1991 CHNS surveyed only individuals belonging to the original sample households, which resulted in a total of 14,778 individuals. For the 1993 CHNS, all new households formed from sample households who resided in sample areas were added to this sample, resulting in a total of 13,893 individuals. For the CHNS 1997, all newly formed households who resided in sample areas (and additional households to replace those no longer participating) were added to the sample. New communities were also added to replace communities no longer participating, and Heilongjiang province replaced Liaoning province. A total of 14,426 individuals participated in 1997. In the 2000 CHNS, newly formed households, replacement households, and replacement communities were again added, and Liaoning province returned to the study. A total of 15,648 individuals participated in 2000.