Healthy Eating Index
Although people do choose what to eat and drink, they can only choose from among foods and beverages that are available to them. Helping people have healthy food choices is an important part of efforts to reduce childhood obesity in America and a goal of the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR).
Where do our foods and beverages come from? The trip from farm to fork is like a food stream. Far upstream, the source is the food supply, all the foods that farmers produce. Then the foods go through processing. These foods flow downstream through many outlets before they end up on a person’s plate. Children’s weights are affected by what they eat, as well as how much they move. How does the food stream reach them?
What do we know about the nutritional quality of choices at various points along the food stream? How closely does any given dietary pattern, set of foods, or menu match the Dietary Guidelines for Americans?
The Healthy Eating Index is a scoring metric that can answer these questions. It was developed by scientists at two of NCCOR’s funding partners: the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion; and the National Cancer Institute’s Applied Research Program, part of the National Institutes of Health.