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

  • Paige E Miller (a1), Diane C Mitchell (a1), Priscilla L Harala (a2), Janet M Pettit (a2), Helen Smiciklas-Wright (a1) and Terryl J Hartman (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 25 June 2010

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).




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


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.


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.


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.

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