The United States food supply is not consistent with dietary guidance: evidence from an evaluation using the Healthy Eating Index-2010

J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015 Jan;115(1):95-100. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2014.08.030. Epub 2014 Nov 1.


The US food system is primarily an economic enterprise, with far-reaching health, environmental, and social effects. A key data source for evaluating the many effects of the food system, including the overall quality and extent to which it provides the basic elements of a healthful diet, is the Food Availability Data System. The objective of the present study was to update earlier research that evaluated the extent to which the US food supply aligns with the most recent federal dietary guidance, using the current Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI-2010) and food supply data extending through 2010. The HEI-2010 was applied to 40 years of food supply data (1970-2010) to examine trends in the overall food supply as well as specific components related to a healthy diet, such as fruits and vegetables. The HEI-2010 overall summary score hovered around half of optimal for all years evaluated, with an increase from 48 points in 1970 to 55 points (out of a possible 100 points) in 2010. Fluctuations in scores for most individual components did not lead to sustained trends. Our study continues to demonstrate sizable gaps between federal dietary guidance and the food supply. This disconnect is troublesome within a context of high rates of diet-related chronic diseases among the population and suggests the need for continual monitoring of the quality of the food supply. Moving toward a food system that is more conducive to healthy eating requires consideration of a range of factors that influence food supply and demand.

Keywords: Diet quality; Food availability; Food supply; Food systems; Healthy Eating Index.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Diet / trends*
  • Energy Intake
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Food Quality
  • Food Supply*
  • Fruit
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutrition Policy / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • United States
  • United States Department of Agriculture
  • Vegetables