Overview & Background of The Healthy Eating Index
The Healthy Eating Index (HEI) is a measure of diet quality, independent of quantity, that can be used to assess compliance with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) and monitor changes in dietary patterns. The HEI also is a valuable tool for epidemiologic and economic research and can be used to evaluate nutrition interventions and consumer nutrition education programs. The Healthy Eating Index–2015 (HEI–2015) is the latest iteration of the HEI. Since 2005, researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have collaborated to update the HEI based on updates to the DGAs.
The HEI is a scoring metric that can be used to determine overall diet quality as well as the quality of a range of dietary components.
A discussion forum for asking other researchers questions about using the HEI, as well as finding out the latest HEI updates.Join the HEI Listserv
Learn more about the HEI-2015, how it is scored, and how it is being used in research.
Download the HEI factsheet, developed in conjunction with the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research.
Learn More About the Healthy Eating Index
- Developing the HEI Components and Scoring Standards provides more information about the development of the HEI and how it has evolved.
- Evaluation and Validation of the HEI provides information about how each version of the HEI has been evaluated for validity.
- Comparing the HEI-2015, HEI-2010 & HEI–2005 provides an overview of the key differences between the versions, as well as a comparison table.
- Basic Steps in Calculating HEI Scores gives step-by-step instructions on calculating HEI scores.
- Research Uses provides an overview of the types of research that can be done using the HEI.
- Overview of the Methods & Calculations reviews the available methods for scoring and modeling HEI scores for various research purposes.
- Choosing a Method and SAS Code illustrate considerations for choosing a method and provide sample SAS code for various types of analyses.
- Interpretation and Visualization of HEI Scores illustrates the use of radar plots and grading to help understand and visualize HEI component and total scores.
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Selected Healthy Eating Index Publications provides a list of papers on the HEI–2005, HEI–2010 and HEI-2015 and examples of how they have been used in research to assess diet quality at various levels, including food supply, community, and individual levels.
- Visit the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) site to learn more about how the HEI has evolved over time.