HEI Resources

Healthy Eating Index page banner with a variety of foods as a background

Healthy Eating Index text as a logoOver 700 scientific papers and federal reports using the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) have been published since 2008 when the HEI-2005 was released. Published papers include analyses using the original HEI, HEI-2005, HEI-2010, and HEI-2015. The articles listed here are limited to federally authored papers and reports, particularly those related to the update and evaluation of the tool.

Healthy Eating Index Update and Evaluation Publications

Peer-reviewed articles describing how the HEI-2015, HEI-2010, and HEI-2005 were updated and evaluated for validity have been published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly, the Journal of the American Dietetic Association) and the Journal of Nutrition.


Update of the Healthy Eating Index: HEI-2015. Krebs-Smith S, Pannucci T, Subar A, Kirkpatrick S, Lerman J, Tooze J. J Acad Nutr Diet. Anticipated September 2018.
Description: An updated HEI is released to correspond to each new edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and this paper introduces the latest version that reflects the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Also included are recommendations for interpreting the HEI using qualitative descriptors, as well as radar graphs, to reveal a visual pattern of diet quality.

Evaluation of the Healthy Eating Index-2015. Reedy J, Lerman J, Krebs-Smith S, Kirkpatrick S, Pannucci T, Subar A,  Kahle L,  Tooze J,  Wilson M. J Acad Nutr Diet. Anticipated September 2018.
Description: The main objective of this article is to evaluate the HEI-2015’s psychometric properties. Eight questions were examined, five relevant to construct validity, two related to reliability, and one to assess criterion validity.

Testing the Predictive Validity of the Healthy Eating Index-2015 in the Multiethnic Cohort: Is the Score Associated with a Reduced Risk of All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality? Panizza CE,  Shvetsov YB,  Harmon BE,  Wilkens LR,  Marchand LL,   Haiman C, Reedy J, Boushey CJ. Nutrients 2018; 10(4):452.
Description: These results, in a multiethnic population, demonstrate that following a diet aligned with the recommendations of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is associated with lower risk of mortality from all-cause cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Previous Healthy Eating Index Updates


Update of the Healthy Eating Index: HEI-2010. Guenther PM, Casavale KO, Reedy J, Kirkpatrick SI, Hiza HAB, Kuczynski KJ, Kahle LL, Krebs-Smith SM. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016 Jan; 116(1):170.

The Healthy Eating Index-2010 Is a Valid and Reliable Measure of Diet Quality According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Guenther  PM,  Kirkpatrick  SI, Reedy J, Krebs-Smith SM, Buckman DW, Dodd KW, Casavale KO,  Carroll RJ. J Nutr. 2014 Mar; 144 (3):399–407.


Development and Evaluation of the Healthy Eating Index-2005: Technical Report. Guenther PM, Reedy J, Krebs-Smith SM, Reeve BB, Basiotis PP. 2007. Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Guidance for Research Related to HEI-2015, HEI-2010 and HEI-2005

Researchers can access technical resources and tools on the following website -- National Cancer Institute Overview and Background of The Healthy Eating Index. Information includes guidance for calculating HEI scores, including information to help researchers choose the most appropriate method and sample SAS codes for various types of analyses.

Selected References

Applications of the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) for Surveillance, Epidemiology and Intervention Research: Considerations and Caveats. Kirkpatrick S, Reedy J, Krebs-Smith S, Pannucci T, Subar A, Wilson M, Lerman J, Tooze J. J Acad Nutr Diet. Anticipated September 2018.
Description: The objective of this paper was to review potential applications of the HEI, including those relevant to surveillance, epidemiology, and intervention research, and to summarize available guidance for appropriate analysis and interpretation.  Steps in calculating HEI scores were reviewed and statistical methods described.  Consideration of salient issues in the calculation and interpretation of scores can help researchers to avoid common pitfalls and can help reviewers to ensure that articles reporting on the use of the HEI include sufficient details such that the work is comprehensible and replicable, with the overall goal of contributing to knowledge on dietary patterns and health.

Healthy Eating Index-Beyond the Score. Schap T, Kuczynski K, Hiza H. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2017 Apr; 117(4):519.
Description: This journal article described the breadth of HEI applications established in the literature and highlighted more information about how researchers use the HEI to study diet quality. 

Average Diet Quality Scores Using the Healthy Eating Index-2010 for Children Ages 2–17 by Age Groups, 2011–2012. America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2017.

Archived Healthy Eating Index Publications

Diet Quality of Children Age 2-17 Years as Measured by the Healthy Eating Index-2010. Nutrition Insight 52. July, 2013. Hiza HAB, Guenther PM, Rihane CI.  

Diet Quality of Americans Differs by Age, Sex, Race/Ethnicity, Income, and Education Level. Hiza HA, Casavale KO, Guenther PM, Davis CA.  J Acad Nutr Diet. 2013 Feb; 113(2):297-306.

The Quality of Children’s Diets in 2003-04 as Measured by the Healthy Eating Index-2005. Nutrition Insight 43. April, 2009. Fungwe T, Guenther PM, Juan W, Hiza HA, Lino M.

Diet Quality of Low-Income and Higher Income Americans in 2003-04 as Measured by the Healthy Eating Index-2005. Nutrition Insight 42. December, 2008. Guenther PM, Juan W, Lino M, Hiza HA, Fungwe T, Lucas R.

Diet Quality of Older Americans in 1994-96 and 2001-02 as Measured by the Healthy Eating Index-2005. Nutrition Insight 41. November, 2008. Juan W, Guenther PM, Kott PS.

Diet Quality of Americans in 1994-96 and 2001-02 as Measured by the Healthy Eating Index-2005. Nutrition Insight 37. August, 2008. Guenther PM, Juan W, Reedy J, Britten P, Lino M, Hiza HA, Krebs-Smith SM.

The Original Healthy Eating Index

In 1995, the original Healthy Eating Index was developed by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, in cooperation with USDA's Food and Consumer Service and Agricultural Research Service, to measure how well the diets of Americans align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. While the main purpose of the HEI has remained the same throughout the series of HEI updates, the design and application of the current HEI have changed substantially since its inception. These new features are reflected beginning with the HEI-2005. Documentation related to the original HEI has been archived.

Resources on ChooseMyPlate.gov

The ChooseMyPlate website has several resources to help you create and support healthful eating patterns in multiple settings, including home, school, work and communities such as: