Application of the Healthy Eating Index-2015 and the Nutrient-Rich Food Index 9.3 for assessing overall diet quality in the Japanese context: Different nutritional concerns from the US

Kentaro Murakami, M. Barbara Livingstone, Aya Fujiwara, Satoshi Sasaki

Research output: Article


Objectives While it is widely perceived that the diet consumed by Japanese is healthy, empirical evidence supporting this notion is limited. In this cross-sectional study, we assessed the overall diet quality of Japanese using the Healthy Eating Index-2015 (HEI-2015) and Nutrient-Rich Food Index 9.3 (NRF9.3), and compared diet quality scores between Japanese and Americans. Methods We used 1-d dietary record data from 19,719 adults (aged ≥20 y) in the Japanese National Health and Nutrition Survey 2012 and the first 24-h dietary recall data from 4614 adults in the US NHANES 2011–2012. Results As expected, a higher total score of the HEI-2015 and NRF9.3 was associated with favorable patterns of overall diet in the Japanese population. The range of total score was wide enough for both HEI-2015 (5th percentile 37.2; 95th percentile 67.2) and NRF9.3 (5th percentile 257; 95th percentile 645). Both HEI-2015 and NRF9.3 distinguished known differences in diet quality between sex, age, and smoking status. The mean total scores of HEI-2015 and NRF9.3 were similar between Japanese (51.9 and 448, respectively) and US adults (52.8 and 435, respectively). However, component scores between the 2 populations were considerably different. For HEI-2015, Japanese had higher scores for whole fruits, total vegetables, green and beans, total protein foods, seafood and plant proteins, fatty acids, added sugars, and saturated fats, but lower scores for total fruits, whole grains, dairy, refined grains, and sodium. For NRF9.3, the intakes of vitamin C, vitamin D, potassium, added sugars, and saturated fats were more favorable in Japanese, while those of dietary fiber, vitamin A, calcium, iron, magnesium, and sodium were less favorable. Conclusions This study suggests the usefulness of HEI-2015 and NRF9.3 for assessing the diet quality of Japanese, as well as for highlighting different nutritional concerns between Japan and the US.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0228318
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - jan. 1 2020


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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