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HEALTH 6 Diet quality: Average diet scores for children ages 2–17 as a percentage of Federal diet quality standards by dietary components, 2003–2004, 2005–2006, and 2007–2008

excel icon HEALTH6 Excel Table

Dietary component 2003–2004 2005–2006 2007–2008
Total Healthy Eating Index-2010 Score 47 47 50
Adequacy (higher score indicates higher consumption)
Total fruit 66 68 80
Whole fruit 58 68 92
Total vegetables 46 46 46
Greens and beans 14 16 18
Whole grains 16 17 18
Dairy 86 84 83
Total protein foods 80 82 84
Seafood and plant proteins 48 48 42
Fatty acids 31 29 30
Moderation (higher score indicates lower consumption)
Refined grains 45 43 46
Sodium 55 51 50
Empty caloriesa 40 42 45
a Empty calories refers to calories from solid fats (i.e., sources of saturated fats and trans fats) and added sugars (i.e., sugars not naturally occurring).
NOTE: The Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI-2010) is a dietary assessment tool comprising 12 components designed to measure quality in terms of how well diets meet the recommendations of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the USDA Food Patterns.1, 2, 3 The HEI-2010 component scores are averages across all children and reflect usual dietary intakes.3 These scores are expressed as percentages of recommended dietary intake levels. A score corresponding to 100 percent indicates that the recommendation was met or exceeded, on average. A score below 100 percent indicates that average intake does not meet the recommendations for that component. Nine components of the HEI-2010 address dietary adequacy. The remaining three components assess refined grains, sodium, and empty calories, all of which should be consumed in moderation, that is, in limited quantities. For the adequacy components, higher scores reflect higher intakes. For the moderation components, higher scores reflect lower intakes because lower intakes are more desirable. For all components, a higher percentage indicates a higher quality diet.
SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003–2004, 2005-2006, 2007-2008 and U.S. Department of Agriculture, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Healthy Eatingt Index- 2010.
1 U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2010). Dietary Guidelines for Americans, (7th ed.), 2010. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. Available at
2 Guenther, P.M., Casavale, K.O., Reedy, J., Kirkpatrick, S.I., Hiza, H.A.B., Kuczynski, K.J., Kahle, L.L., and Krebs-Smith, S.M. (2013). Update of the Healthy Eating Index: HEI-2010, Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 113(4), 569–80.
3 Freedman, L.S., Guenther, P.M., Krebs-Smith, S.M., and Kott, P.S. (2008). A population’s mean Healthy Eating Index-2005 scores are best estimated by the score of the population ratio when one 24-hour recall is available. Journal of Nutrition, 138, 1725–1729.