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Overview & Background

The Healthy Eating Index–2010 (HEI–2010) is the latest iteration of the HEI. The HEI is a measure of diet quality, independent of quantity, that can be used to assess compliance with the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans 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 HEI is not a checklist or other type of dietary assessment instrument. Those instruments are used when gathering data about what people eat. Rather, the HEI is a scoring metric that can be used to determine the quality of a given dietary pattern, set of foods, or menu.

All of the key Dietary Guidelines food choice recommendations that relate to diet quality are reflected in HEI–2010's 12 components. Nine of the components focus on adequacy (dietary components to increase) and three focus on moderation (dietary components to decrease).

The performance of the HEI–2010 has been evaluated through an assessment of its content validity, construct validity, and reliability. Results from the evaluation are expected to be published in late 2013 and will be available on this Web site.

Learn More About the Healthy Eating Index

Developing the HEI–2010 provides more information about the HEI–2010 and how it differs from the HEI–2005.

Comparing the HEI–2005 & HEI–2010 provides an overview of the key differences between the two versions, as well as a comparison table.

Research Uses provides an overview of the types of research that can be done using the HEI.

Tools for Researchers gives step-by-step instructions on calculating scores and provides sample code for various types of analyses.

HEI–2005 Resources contains information about how the HEI–2005 was developed and evaluated, gives examples of research applications, and provides SAS code for creating scores.

For More Information provides a list of papers and other resources on the HEI–2005 and how it has 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) Web site to learn more about earlier versions of the HEI and how it has evolved over time.

Last Modified: 11 Apr 2014