Healthy Eating Index

Healthy Eating Index

Poor diet quality is associated with an increased risk of cancer. Measuring total diet quality is complex, so some analyses have focused only on individual dietary constituents. However, such a reductionist approach may provide limited information, so a more integrated approach that captures the total diet, or dietary pattern, is useful. The Healthy Eating Index (HEI) is a measure of overall diet quality, independent of diet quantity, that measures alignment with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The HEI is a measure of overall diet quality, independent of quantity, that can be used to assess alignment with the most current Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Through a collaboration with NCI and USDA, the HEI is revised and updated every five years to reflect updates in dietary guidance. The HEI is a scoring metric that has been used widely in surveillance, epidemiologic, and intervention research to study diet quality among populations, the associations between diet quality and health outcomes, and the impact of interventions on diet quality, as well as in economic and food environment-based research.

Here, the HEI is applied to nationally representative data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to estimate a total HEI score on a scale from 0 to 100 points. The total HEI score is made up of 13 components, each of which reflects an important aspect of diet quality. Nine components focus on adequacy (foods we should eat enough of to get the nutrients we need and for overall good health). Four components focus on moderation (dietary components that should be limited or consumed in small amounts). View more information about the HEI.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1994–2018.

  • There is no Healthy People target for the Healthy Eating Index.

Healthy People 2030 is a set of goals set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Non-Significant Change
Diet and Alcohol