HEI Scores for Americans

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

Healthy Eating Index text as a logoThe Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) uses the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) to provide a data-driven understanding of diet quality in the United States over time. The HEI-2015 can be used to see how well the diets of Americans align with the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

We use nationally representative survey data called What We Eat in America (WWEIA). The WWEIA is the dietary intake interview component of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), in which Americans report the types and quantities of foods and beverages they consume in a 24-hour period. Nutritionists at CNPP calculated average HEI-2015 scores for the American population using this information.

An ideal overall HEI score of 100 suggests that the set of foods reported is in line with the Dietary Guidelines recommendations. The average HEI-2015 score for Americans is 59 out of 100. This score indicates that average diets of Americans do not align with the dietary recommendations. A comparison of HEI scores looking at various age categories showed that HEI-2015 scores varied by age group:

  • Older Americans ages 65 and over have the highest diet quality.
  • Children ages 6-17 have scores that are lower than the population average.
  • For all Americans regardless of age, overall HEI scores are far from the maximum of 100 points.

The figure provides a data-driven summary of the diet quality of Americans ages 2 years and older from 2005-2014. The total HEI-2015 score was 56 during 2005-2006, the total HEI-2015 score was 57 during 2007-2008, the total HEI-2015 score was 59 during 2009-2010 and the total HEI-2015 score was 60 during 2011- 2012. The current HEI-2015 total score for the US population during 2013-2014 was 59 out of a maximum 100 points. Older Americans ages 65 and over had the highest HEI-2015 total score of 66, while children ages 2-5 had the second highest HEI-2015 total score of 60. Children ages 6-11 and 12-17 each had HEI-2015 total scores of 53, while adults ages 18-64 had HEI-2015 total score of 58.  However, for all Americans regardless of age, HEI findings show that Americans do not align their eating choices with dietary recommendations.

For a PDF version of this chart, click here.

A data table titled Average Healthy Eating Index-2015 Scores for Americans by Age Group (shown below) shows how the HEI-2015 total scores and component scores vary. The dietary data came from the WWEIA portion of the 2013-2014 NHANES.

More information about how the scores are calculated is provided on the How the HEI is Scored page.

Previously Published HEI Scores for Americans

The following tables provide the HEI scores that indicate the quality of the American diet during various time periods using the HEI-2010. The HEI-2010 was designed to capture the key recommendations of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.