Healthy Eating Index


Healthy Eating Index iconThe Healthy Eating Index (HEI) is a measure of diet quality that assesses conformance to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. USDA’s primary use of the HEI is to monitor the diet quality of the U.S. population and the low-income subpopulation. For this purpose the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) uses the data collected via 24-hour dietary recalls in national surveys. The HEI is also used to examine relationships between diet and health-related outcomes, and to assess the quality of food assistance packages, menus, and the US food supply. The original HEI was created by CNPP in 1995. Updates to the HEI are through collaboration between CNPP and partners at the National Cancer Institute, to reflect the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. (Plans to update the HEI to align with the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans are currently underway.)

The HEI-2010 is described in detail in two papers: one describes the update from HEI-2005 to HEI-2010 and another describes the validation of the 2010.  The update to the HEI-2010 is also summarized in a fact sheet. Guidance for researchers and a SAS program for calculating HEI-2010 scores are available. Several reports are available in the publications table below. The most recent HEI-2010 scores for the total U.S. Population >=2 years, Children 2-17 years, and Older Adults >=65 years for NHANES 2011-2012 are given in the table below. (This data table is available as a PDF, PNG, and a JPG file.)

Data table: HEI-2010 Total and Component Scores for the U.S. Population, Children and Older Adults, NHANES 2011-2012

The HEI-2005 was described in a fact sheet and in a technical report on its development and evaluation, and in two articles published in the November 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (vol. 108, pages 1854 and 1896). Reports of population scores, listed below, are available as are support files, including a documented version of the SAS program and Excel worksheet used to estimate the scores and links to the necessary databases. An article on the population ratio method for calculating HEI scores was published in the September 2008 issue of the Journal of Nutrition (vol. 138, page 1725).

Archived data files for the original HEI are available here for historical purposes.

Healthy Eating Index

Publication Date Title
July 2013
Diet Quality of Children Age 2-17 Years as Measured by the Healthy Eating Index-2010
February 2013
Update of the Healthy Eating Index: HEI-2010