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HEALTH 6 Diet quality: Average diet quality scoresa using the Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI-2010) for children ages 2–17 by age 2011–2012

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Dietary component Ages 2–17 Ages 2–5 Ages 6–11 Ages 12–17
Total HEI-2010 Score (maximum score = 100) 55.1 59.9 53.7 52.3
Adequacy Components
Total fruit (5) 3.9 5.0 3.9 3.1
Whole fruit (5) 4.8 5.0 4.9 3.9
Total vegetables (5) 2.1 1.9 2.0 2.4
Greens and Beans (5) 0.7 0.7 0.8 0.7
Total protein foods (5) 4.4 3.9 4.3 4.8
Seafood and plant proteins (5) 3.1 2.7 3.0 3.2
Whole grains (10) 2.5 2.8 2.6 2.2
Dairy (10) 9.0 10.0 8.7 8.3
Fatty acids (10) 3.3 2.6 3.2 3.7
Moderation Components
Refined Grains (10) 4.9 6.1 4.4 4.8
Sodium (10) 4.9 6.2 5.0 4.0
Empty Caloriesb (20) 11.5 13.0 11.0 11.3
a Calculated using the population ratio method.
b Empty calories are 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 align with the recommendations of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Patterns (1,2,3). The HEI-2010 has 12 components, and intakes equal to or better than the standards set for each component are assigned a maximum score. Maximum HEI-2010 component scores range from 5 to 20 points. Scores for intakes between the minimum and maximum standards are scored proportionately. Scores for each of the 12 components are summed to create a total maximum HEI-2010 score of 100. Nine of the twelve components assess adequacy of the diet. The remaining three components assess dietary components that should be consumed in moderation. For the adequacy components, higher scores reflect higher intakes that meet or exceed the standards. For the moderation components, higher scores reflect lower intakes, because lower intakes are more desirable. A higher total score indicates a higher quality diet. HEI-2010 component scores are averages across all children and reflect usual dietary intakes. Starting with America's Children 2017, Diet Quality component scores will be reported as the actual scores instead of percentages of the maximum component scores. Detailed information on how the HEI scores were developed can be found at
SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and U.S. Department of Agriculture, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Healthy Eating Index- 2010.