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HEI Resources

Healthy Eating INdex


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Over 900 scientific papers and federal reports using the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) have been published since 2008 when the HEI-2005 was released. Published papers include analyses using the, HEI-2005, HEI-2010, HEI-2015, the newly released HEI-2020 and HEI-Toddlers-2020. The articles listed here are limited to federally authored papers and reports, particularly those related to the update and evaluation of the tool.

Healthy Eating Index Update and Evaluation Publications

Peer-reviewed articles describing how the HEI-2020, HEI-Toddlers-2020, HEI-2015, HEI-2010, and HEI-2005 were updated and evaluated for validity have been published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly, the Journal of the American Dietetic Association) and the Journal of Nutrition.

HEI-2020 and HEI-Toddlers-2020

Guidance for Research Related to HEI Scores

Researchers can access technical resources and tools on the HHS, National Cancer Institute’s website, Overview and Background of The Healthy Eating Index. Information includes guidance for calculating HEI scores, including information to help researchers choose the most appropriate method and sample SAS codes for various types of analyses.

A paper titled "Applications of the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Interventions Research: Considerations and Caveats” describes salient issues in the calculation and interpretation of scores can help researchers avoid common pitfalls and reviewers ensure that articles reporting on the use of the HEI include sufficient details such that the work is comprehensible and replicable, with the overall goal of contributing to knowledge on dietary patterns and health among Americans.

Kirkpatrick S, Reedy J, Krebs-Smith S, et al. Applications of the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) for Surveillance, Epidemiology and Intervention Research: Considerations and Caveats. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2018; 118(9):1603-1621. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2018.05.020

Archived Healthy Eating Index Resources and Publications

Publications and federal reports related to the HEI that were published prior to 2018 are available in the archived resources section of this page.  

The Original HEI

In 1995, the original Healthy Eating Index was developed by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, in cooperation with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service and the USDA Agricultural Research Service, to measure how well the diets of Americans align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. While the main purpose of the HEI has remained the same throughout the series of HEI updates, the design and application of the current HEI have changed substantially since its inception. These new features are reflected beginning with the HEI-2005. Documentation related to the original HEI has been archived.

Federal Reports

Page updated: September 14, 2023