Development of the Healthy Eating Food Index (HEFI)-2019 measuring adherence to Canada's Food Guide 2019 recommendations on healthy food choices

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2022 May;47(5):595-610. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2021-0415. Epub 2022 Jan 14.


The release of Canada's Food Guide (CFG) in 2019 by Health Canada prompted the development of indices to measure adherence to these updated dietary recommendations for Canadians. This study describes the development and scoring standards of the Healthy Eating Food Index (HEFI-2019), which is intended to measure alignment of eating patterns with CFG-2019 recommendations on food choices among Canadians aged 2 years and older. Alignment with the intent of each key recommendation in the CFG-2019 was the primary principle guiding the development of the HEFI-2019. Additional considerations included previously published indices, data on Canadians' dietary intakes from the 2015 Canadian Community Health Survey-Nutrition, and expert judgement. The HEFI-2019 includes 10 components: Vegetables and fruits (20 points), Whole-grain foods (5 points), Grain foods ratio (5 points), Protein foods (5 points), Plant-based protein foods (5 points), Beverages (10 points), Fatty acids ratio (5 points), Saturated fats (5 points), Free sugars (10 points), and Sodium (10 points). All components are expressed as ratios (e.g., proportions of total foods, total beverages, or total energy). The HEFI-2019 score has a maximum of 80 points. Potential uses of the HEFI-2019 include research as well as monitoring and surveillance of food choices in population-based surveys. Novelty: The Healthy Eating Food Index-2019 was developed to measure adherence to the 2019 Canada's Food Guide recommendations on healthy food choices. The HEFI-2019 includes 10 components, of which 5 are based on foods, 1 on beverages and 4 on nutrients, for a total of 80 points.

Keywords: 24-hour dietary recalls; Canada’s Food Guide; Canadian Community Health Survey; Enquête sur la santé dans les collectivités canadiennes; HEFI-2019; Healthy Eating Food Index; adherence; adhésion; choix alimentaires; diet quality; dietary guidelines; enquête sur la nutrition; food choices; guide alimentaire canadien; nutrition survey; qualité de l’alimentation; rappels alimentaires de 24 heures; recommandations alimentaires.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Diet
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Fatty Acids
  • Food Preferences
  • Food*
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Surveys


  • Fatty Acids