The Healthy Eating Index (HEI) is a measure of diet quality used to assess how well a set of foods aligns with key recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is designed for nutrition and health professionals to help individuals and families to consume a healthful and nutritionally adequate diet.
The HEI was originally developed in 1995 as a tool to evaluate the extent to which Americans were following dietary recommendations. In 2005, the structure of the HEI was revised and has been updated twice since 2005. The HEI-2015 is the most current version of the HEI in terms of conformance with the key recommendations of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The HEI uses a scoring system to evaluate a set of foods. The scores range from 0 to 100. An ideal overall HEI score of 100 reflects that the set of foods aligns with key dietary recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The overall HEI-2015 score is made up of 13 components that reflect the different food groups and key recommendations in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans for ages 2 years and older. More information on these components and the HEI scoring is described on the How the HEI Is Scored page. Also see the HEI Scores for Americans page for more details about the most recent scores for all Americans, as well as for specific age groups.
The total HEI-2015 score for Americans is 58 out of 100. This snapshot of overall diet quality indicates that average diets of Americans do not conform to dietary recommendations. American diet quality showed a slight improvement over time from 2005-2006 through 2011-2012, but a small decrease during 2013-2014 through 2017-2018; however, there is room for improvement. Each step closer to eating a diet that aligns with Dietary Guidelines recommendations can help reduce the risk of developing diet-related chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
Collective action across society can help Americans make the shift from current eating patterns to those that align with the Dietary Guidelines. Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthful eating patterns in multiple settings across the United States, including at home, school, work and in communities.
To support these efforts, a broad range of resources are available on MyPlate.gov and Dietaryguidelines.gov that aim to help Americans make eating choices that align with the Dietary Guidelines. A selection of resources can be found on the Healthy Eating Index Resources page.