Validation of Food Compass with a healthy diet, cardiometabolic health, and mortality among U.S. adults, 1999-2018

Nat Commun. 2022 Nov 22;13(1):7066. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-34195-8.


The Food Compass is a nutrient profiling system (NPS) to characterize the healthfulness of diverse foods, beverages and meals. In a nationally representative cohort of 47,999 U.S. adults, we validated a person's individual Food Compass Score (i.FCS), ranging from 1 (least healthful) to 100 (most healthful) based on cumulative scores of items consumed, against: (a) the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) 2015; (b) clinical risk factors and health conditions; and (c) all-cause mortality. Nationally, the mean (SD) of i.FCS was 35.5 (10.9). i.FCS correlated highly with HEI-2015 (R = 0.81). After multivariable-adjustment, each one SD (10.9 point) higher i.FCS associated with more favorable BMI (-0.60 kg/m2 [-0.70,-0.51]), systolic blood pressure (-0.69 mmHg [-0.91,-0.48]), diastolic blood pressure (-0.49 mmHg [-0.66,-0.32]), LDL-C (-2.01 mg/dl [-2.63,-1.40]), HDL-C (1.65 mg/d [1.44,1.85]), HbA1c (-0.02% [-0.03,-0.01]), and fasting plasma glucose (-0.44 mg/dL [-0.74,-0.15]); lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome (OR = 0.85 [0.82,0.88]), CVD (0.92 [0.88,0.96]), cancer (0.95 [0.91,0.99]), and lung disease (0.92 [0.88,0.96]); and higher prevalence of optimal cardiometabolic health (1.24 [1.16,1.32]). i.FCS also associated with lower all-cause mortality (HR = 0.93 [0.89,0.96]). Findings were similar by age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, income, and BMI. These findings support validity of Food Compass as a tool to guide public health and private sector strategies to identify and encourage healthier eating.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Beverages
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Food
  • Humans
  • Nutrients