Adequate provision of nutrients, beginning in early stages of life, is crucial to ensure good physical and mental development and long-term health. Poor availability or access to food of adequate nutritional quality or the exposure to conditions that impair absorption and use of nutrients leads to large sections of the world’s population being undernourished, having poor vitamin and mineral status or being overweight and obese, with large differences among population groups. These conditions are often present simultaneously and are interconnected.
Effective nutrition actions exist but are not implemented on a sufficiently large scale. WHO works with partners to help countries alleviate the double burden of malnutrition, by monitoring nutritional status; advocating for the need of interventions; and helping to design, implement and monitor effective strategies and plans. Substantial benefits can be obtained by concentrating efforts from conception through the first two years of life, but at the same time a life-course approach is needed to ensure that good nutritional status is maintained throughout life.