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Risk Factor Monitoring & Methods
Cancer Control and Population Sciences


The Healthy Eating Index - 2005: Overview & Background


The Healthy Eating Index (HEI) is a measure of diet quality that can be used to assess compliance with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and monitor changes in dietary patterns nationwide. It also is a valuable tool for epidemiologic and economic research and can be used in nutrition interventions and consumer nutrition education programs.


The USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) originally developed the HEI in 1995 (Kennedy et al., 1995) and used it to monitor change in the Nation's diet.

The original HEI included 10 components. Five assessed the nutrient adequacy of the diet by using the five major food groups of the original Food Guide Pyramid. Four assessed aspects of the diet that should be limited or consumed in moderation. The final component was a measure of variety in food choices regardless of food group.

Each of the components of the original HEI was scored using a 0 to 10 range, with a total maximum score of 100. A total score of more than 80 was considered "good," scores of 51 - 80 indicated "needs improvement," and scores of less than 51 were considered "poor." Scores for the food-group components were based on recommended amounts found in the Food Guide Pyramid and average estimated energy requirements for each of 11 age-gender groups.

Last modified:
02 May 2008
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