Healthy Eating Index (HEI)

The Healthy Eating Index (HEI) is a tool developed by the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Cancer Institute to evaluate the extent to which diets are consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Possible index points range from 0-100, with a higher score indicating greater consistency of the diet with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The HEI 2015 is the most recent version of the HEI and aligns with the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. To learn more about the HEI, including the components and scoring, click here to visit the NCI website.

 

HEI 2015 total and component scores are provided in NDSR 2022 output files for recall, record, and menu record types.  HEI total scores, component scores, and contributing dietary constituents are provided at the meal level in file 22, for daily dietary intake records in file 23, and for menu records in file 24. One total score and one set of component scores are calculated and provided for each intake day (provided in file 23).  The output files also provide the contributing dietary constituents (e.g. servings of dairy in cup equivalents, servings of whole fruit in cup equivalents, etc.) to facilitate more complex HEI score calculation methods.

 

Data collected in NDSR 2013 or a subsequent version of the program may be restored in NDSR 2022 to obtain HEI 2015 output files.

 

For more information on NDSR 2022 HEI 2015 Output Files please see Chapter 8, Managing NDSR Output, and Appendix 24, Healthy Eating Index, in the NDSR 2022 User Manual.

 

NOTE: Users planning to compare HEI 2015 scores previously or newly calculated using the Legacy SAS code provided by NCC (see below for Legacy SAS code and instructions) with those calculated in the NDSR 2022 HEI 2015 output files should be aware of the following two differences that exist between how some contributing dietary constituents are calculated in the Legacy SAS code versus within NDSR 2022.   

1) Nondairy (e.g. plant-based dairy alternative) milks, cheeses, and yogurts are excluded from the Dairy component in NDSR 2022 HEI 2015 output files but included when using the Legacy SAS code provided on this website.  

2) Meat-based savory snacks (such as pork rinds and meat-based snack bars) are included in the Total Protein component in the NDSR 2022 HEI 2015 output files but excluded when using the Legacy SAS code provided on this website.
Legacy SAS code for calculating HEI 2015 total and component scores

 HEI scores may be calculated using variables available in NDSR output files, which was the only option available prior to the addition of HEI 2015 output files to NDSR 2022. To facilitate generating HEI 2015 scores we previously created SAS programs, now referred to as Legacy SAS programs, that allow for calculating HEI 2015 scores in accord with two calculation approaches (per each intake day for each person and per person across all intake days). The programs for both calculation approaches calculate total HEI 2015 scores and scores for each of the 13 components of the index.

 

 Note that two Legacy SAS programs are available for each approach. One program should be used for data collected using NDSR 2013 or any subsequent version of the program. The other program should be used for data collected using NDSR 2012 or an earlier version of the program. Please see the special instructions for calculating HEI 2015 scores for data collected using NDSR 2012 or an earlier version of the program.

 

A Guide is available to support you in using the Legacy SAS code for calculating HEI 2015 scores.

 

Approach 1: Legacy SAS code for calculating HEI 2015 scores for each intake day for each person

The Legacy SAS programs below calculate HEI 2015 scores for person-level NDSR data for each day of intake data, regardless of how many intake days are available for each person.

Approach 2: Legacy SAS code for calculating HEI 2015 scores per person when multiple days of intake data are available for each person

The Legacy SAS programs below calculate one HEI 2015 score per individual across all days of recalls or records collected, even if some participants have varying number of intake days, including only one.


Special Instructions for Calculating HEI 2015 Scores for Data Collected using NDSR 2012 or an Earlier Version of the Program

Before using one of the Legacy SAS programs provided for calculating HEI 2015 scores study data must be restored in NDSR 2012 or a subsequent version of the program if data were collected using an earlier version of the program. Restoration is required so that all needed variables used for calculating HEI 2015 scores are available in the NDSR output files.

 

If some of your data for a specific study was collected using NDSR 2012 or an earlier version of the program and some was collected using NDSR 2013 or a subsequent version, we recommend using the Legacy SAS programs provided for calculating HEI 2015 scores for data collected using NDSR 2012 or an earlier version of the program for all of your study data. We recommend using the same Legacy SAS program to ensure HEI 2015 scores are calculated in an identical manner for all study participants and all dietary intake data collected from study participants. Rationale for this recommendation: The Legacy SAS programs for calculating HEI 2015 scores for data collected using older versus newer versions of NDSR rely on different variables in NDSR output files for measuring servings of whole grains and refined grains. Consequently, HEI 2015 scores calculated by each SAS program may differ as an artifact of the differences in whole grain and refined grain variables used in the calculations.