Associations of Biomarker-Calibrated Healthy Eating Index-2010 Scores with Chronic Disease Risk and Their Dependency on Energy Intake and Body Mass Index in Postmenopausal Women

Marian L. Neuhouser, Mary Pettinger, Lesley F. Tinker, Cynthia Thomson, Linda Van Horn, Bernhard Haring, James M. Shikany, Marcia L. Stefanick, Ross L. Prentice, Jo Ann E. Manson, Yasmin Mossavar-Rahmani, Johanna W. Lampe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Prior studies examined associations between the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) and chronic disease risk based on self-reported diet without measurement error correction. OBJECTIVE: Our objective was to test associations between biomarker calibration of the food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ)-derived HEI-2010 with incident cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, and type 2 diabetes (T2D) among Women's Health Initiative (WHI) participants. METHODS: Data were derived from WHI postmenopausal women (n = 100,374) aged 50-79 y at enrollment (1993-1998) at 40 US clinical centers, linked to nutritional biomarker substudies and outcomes over subsequent decades of follow-up. Baseline or year 1 FFQ-derived HEI-2010 scores were calibrated with nutritional biomarkers and participant characteristics (e.g., BMI) for systematic measurement error correction. Calibrated data were then used in HR models examining associations with incidence of CVD (total, subtypes, mortality), cancer (total, subtypes, mortality), and T2D in WHI participants with approximately 2 decades of follow-up. Models were multivariable-adjusted with further adjustment for BMI and doubly labeled water (DLW)-calibrated energy. RESULTS: Multivariable-adjusted HRs modeled a 20% increment in HEI-2010 score in relation to outcomes. HRs were modest using uncalibrated HEI-2010 scores (HRs = 0.91-1.09). Using biomarker-calibrated HEI-2010, 20% increments in scores yielded multivariable-adjusted HRs (95% CIs) of 0.75 (0.60, 0.93) for coronary heart disease; 0.75 (0.61, 0.91) for myocardial infarction; 0.96 (0.92, 1.01) for stroke; 0.88 (0.75, 1.02) for CVD mortality; 0.81 (0.70, 0.94) for colorectal cancer; 0.81 (0.74, 0.88) for breast cancer; 0.79 (0.73, 0.87) for cancer mortality; and 0.45 (0.36-0.55) for T2D. Except for cancer mortality and T2D incidence, results became null when adjusted for DLW-calibrated energy intake and BMI. CONCLUSIONS: Biomarker calibration of FFQ-derived HEI-2010 was associated with lower CVD and cancer incidence and mortality and lower T2D incidence in postmenopausal women. Attenuation after adjustment with BMI and DLW-calibrated energy suggests that energy intake and/or obesity are strong drivers of diet-related chronic disease risk in postmenopausal women. The Women's Health Initiative is registered at at NCT00000611.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2808-2817
Number of pages10
JournalThe Journal of nutrition
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jan 14 2023


  • Dietary Guidelines for Americans
  • Healthy Eating Index
  • cancer
  • cardiovascular disease
  • diet quality
  • postmenopausal women
  • type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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