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HEALTH 6 Diet Quality: Mean Healthy Eating Index-2010 total and component scoresa for children ages 2–17, 2005–2006, 2007–2008, 2009–2010 and 2011–2012

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Dietary component 2005–2006 2007–2008 2009–2010 2011–2012
Total Healthy Eating Index-2010 Score 49.5 51.8 53.5 55.1
Adequacy (higher score indicates higher consumption)
Total fruit 66.4 75.1 76.4 78.1
Whole fruit 69.7 92.3 95.4 95.7
Total vegetables 43.3 43.5 41.9 42.0
Greens and beans 11.4 14.6 11.2 14.0
Whole grains 16.8 18.4 22.2 25.0
Dairy 84.4 84.9 92.3 90.3
Total protein foods 87.1 90.5 91.7 88.8
Seafood and plant proteins 54.7 48.9 58.0 61.1
Fatty acids 29.0 29.5 30.8 32.9
Moderation (higher score indicates lower consumption)
Refined grains 48.4 51.1 45.4 49.1
Sodium 50.8 49.5 45.0 48.5
Empty caloriesb 49.5 51.1 55.8 57.5
a Each component scaled as a percent of the maximum component score.
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 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 The HEI-2010 has 12 components and intakes equal to or better than the standards set for each component are assigned a maximum score. Nine components of the HEI-2010 address nutrient adequacy. The remaining three components assess refined grains, sodium, and empty calories, all of which should be consumed in moderation. For the adequacy components, higher scores reflect higher intakes that meet or exceed recommendations. For the moderation components, higher scores reflect lower intakes because lower intakes are more desirable. For all components, a higher percentage of the maximum score indicates a higher quality diet. Starting with America’s Children, 2015, the Food Patterns Equivalents Database (FPED) was used to convert foods and beverages in the Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies to USDA Food Patterns components for data years 2005 and beyond. Therefore, estimates by dietary components for 2005–2008 may differ from those in previously published editions. The FPED provides a unique research tool to evaluate food and beverage intakes of Americans compared with recommendations of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Data prior to 2011–2012 were computed using SAS-Callable SUDAAN.
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.
1 U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2010). Dietary Guidelines for Americans (8th ed.). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Available at
2 Guenther, P.M., Casavale, K.O., Reedy, J., Kirkpatrick, S.I., Hiza, H.A.B., Kuczynski, K.J., Krebs-Smith, S.M. (2013). Update of the Healthy Eating Index: HEI-2010. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 113(4), 569–580.
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.