Public Health Nutrition

Assessment and methodology

Development and evaluation of a method for calculating the Healthy Eating Index-2005 using the Nutrition Data System for Research

Paige E Millera1 c1, Diane C Mitchella1, Priscilla L Haralaa2, Janet M Pettita2, Helen Smiciklas-Wrighta1 and Terryl J Hartmana1

a1 Department of Nutritional Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, 110 Chandlee Laboratory, University Park, PA 16802, USA

a2 Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, Nutrition Coordinating Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA


Objective To develop and evaluate a method for calculating the Healthy Eating Index-2005 (HEI-2005) with the widely used Nutrition Data System for Research (NDSR) based on the method developed for use with the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrient Dietary Data System (FNDDS) and MyPyramid Equivalents Database (MPED).

Design Cross-sectional.

Setting Non-institutionalized, community-dwelling adults aged 70 years and above.

Subjects Two hundred and seventy-one adults participating in the Geisinger Rural Aging Study (GRAS) and 620 age- and race-matched adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001–2002 (NHANES) were included in the analysis. The HEI-2005 scores were generated using NDSR in GRAS and compared to scores generated using FNDDS and MPED in NHANES.

Results Similar total HEI-2005 scores (mean 62·0 (se 0·75) in GRAS v. 57·4 (se 0·55) in NHANES) were estimated, and the individual components most strongly correlated with total score in both samples were compared. Cronbach’s coefficient α values of HEI-2005 were 0·52 in GRAS and 0·43 in NHANES.

Conclusions Since NDSR is commonly used for educational purposes, in clinical settings and in nutrition research, it is important to develop methodology for assessing diet quality through the use of HEI-2005 with this dietary analysis software application and its accompanying food and nutrient database. Results from the present study show that HEI-2005 scores can be generated with NDSR using the method described in the present study and the detailed USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion technical report as guidance.

(Received May 19 2009)

(Accepted April 27 2010)

(Online publication June 25 2010)


c1 Corresponding author: Email