Evidence-informed nutrition guidelines

WHO has recognized the need to use more rigorous processes to ensure that health care recommendations are informed by the best available research evidence. In response to a call from the Fifty-eighth World Health Assembly, WHO established the Guidelines Review Committee (GRC) with the purpose of developing and implementing procedures to ensure that WHO guidelines are developed in ways consistent with best practice, emphasizing the appropriate use of evidence. These procedures, described in the WHO Handbook for Guideline Development have been adopted by the Organization as of 1 January 2009.

The Department of Nutrition for Health and Development (NHD) has strengthened its role in providing evidence-informed policy and programme guidance to Member States, in partnership with relevant internal partners and guided by the new WHO guidelines development process. This normative mandate was reaffirmed through a request from the 63rd World Health Assembly to strengthen the evidence base on effective and safe nutrition actions to counteract the public health effects of the double burden of malnutrition, and to describe good practices for successful implementation, acknowledging that achieving the Millennium Development Goals would require the reduction of maternal and child malnutrition.

Guideline development group

To take forward the work on evidence-informed guidance, NHD established in 2010 a guideline development group, the WHO Nutrition Guidance Expert Advisory Group (NUGAG), guided by the WHO Steering Committee for Nutrition Guidelines Development, which includes representatives from all Departments in WHO with an interest in the provision of recommendations in nutrition.

The membership of this group is reviewed every two years and includes experts from various WHO Expert Advisory Panels as well as experts from a larger roster developed through open calls for experts, taking into consideration a balanced mix of genders, multiple disciplinary areas of expertise, and representation from all WHO Regions.

There are currently two subgroups of the guideline development group, Diet and Health and Nutrition Actions, with a third, Policy Actions, currently in the process of being formed. Click on the links below for more information on each of the subgroups.

Priority setting in guideline development

In an effort to maintain independency and transparency in the normative work of WHO, and to enhance the understanding of the process used to prioritize topics for guideline development among Member States and stakeholders, NHD has revised the prioritization process it uses, including the development of an online consultation tool to further facilitate the participation of Member States and other stakeholders.

Tracking progress of guidelines currently under development

The nutrition guideline development tracking tool catalogues all WHO guidelines currently being developed by NHD, including those completed in the past 12 months and completed in collaboration with other WHO programmes or departments. The tool aims to increase public understanding of the status of WHO nutrition guidelines currently under development, and provide transparency in the WHO guideline development process.

Additional information