Nutrition: An Introduction

Source - © 2014 Akram Ali, Courtesy of Photoshare. Description - Milk collector Sabina (29) with her husband Vutto Miah (40) and her two daughters, Maisha (12, at left) and Manisha (6), in Nepaltoli, Bangladesh.

One-third of the world’s population experiences some form of poor nutrition, leading to increased rates of illness, mortality, and lost productivity. Inadequate maternal and child nutrition is the underlying cause of 3.5 million child deaths every year, and 45% of deaths in children under 5 years of age.

This course discusses basic concepts of good nutrition, common nutritional deficiencies, causes of undernutrition, and the magnitude of the problem. It also outlines the major population-based interventions to improve nutritional status, as well as key indicators for measuring and monitoring progress in nutrition.


After completing this course, the learner should be able to:

  • Describe the basic concepts of good nutrition
  • State the major nutritional deficiencies
  • Explain nutrition in terms of a life cycle process and the importance of the "first 1,000 days" window of opportunity
  • Describe the immediate and underlying causes of malnutrition
  • Describe the rationale for a multi-sectoral approach to improving nutrition
  • List examples of nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions


This course was originally developed in 2016, and was updated and revised in 2018 to reflect recent research and developments in global nutrition. The course authors wish to acknowledge the technical and programmatic contributions of Renata Seidel and the FANTA II project, who developed the original course on which this revised version was based.

We are grateful to Ian Gorecki and Alyssa Klein at SPRING for their support in the revision of this course.