The Healthy Eating Index (HEI) is a measure for assessing whether a set of foods aligns with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). An updated HEI is released to correspond to each new edition of the DGA, and this article introduces the latest version, which reflects the 2015-2020 DGA. The HEI-2015 components are the same as in the HEI-2010, except Saturated Fat and Added Sugars replace Empty Calories, with the result being 13 components. The 2015-2020 DGA include explicit recommendations to limit intakes of both Added Sugars and Saturated Fats to <10% of energy. HEI-2015 does not account for excessive energy from alcohol within a separate component, but continues to account for all energy from alcohol within total energy (the denominator for most components). All other components remain the same as for HEI-2010, except for a change in the allocation of legumes. Previous versions of the HEI accounted for legumes in either the two vegetable or the two protein foods components, whereas HEI-2015 counts legumes toward all four components. Weighting approaches are similar to those of previous versions, and scoring standards were maintained, refined, or developed to increase consistency across components; better ensure face validity; follow precedent; cover a range of intakes; and, when applicable, ensure the DGA level corresponds to a score >7 out of 10. HEI-2015 component scores can be examined collectively using radar graphs to reveal a pattern of diet quality and summed to represent overall diet quality.
Keywords: Diet indexes; Diet quality; Dietary intake; Dietary patterns; Healthy Eating Index.
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