Today the world faces a double burden of malnutrition that includes both undernutrition and overweight. Malnutrition is also characterized by a lack of several essential nutrients in the diet, particularly iron, folic acid, vitamin A and iodine.
Malnutrition, in any form, presents significant threats to human health. Undernutrition contributes to about one third of all child deaths. Growing rates of overweight and obesity worldwide are associated with a rise in chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. These conditions are affecting the poor and most vulnerable in escalating numbers.
Effective nutrition actions to improve health have been identified and WHO is working with Member States and partners to scale-up interventions, particularly for the most vulnerable, and starting from the earliest stages of development.
Strategies include helping to develop sound food and nutrition policies in countries with the greatest burden of malnutrition; monitoring global trends in nutrition to inform decision-making; providing scientific advice for actions to intervene; and leading global collaboration to improve nutritional health.
The department is organized into three areas of work
- Growth assessment and surveillance
- Evidence and programme guidance
- Nutrition policy and scientific advice