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Nutrition - An Introduction

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Malnutrition, is a major contributing factor towards increased morbidity and mortality worldwide. It has been estimated that nearly 45% of deaths in children under 5 years of age can be attributed to inadequate nutrition. According to experts, investments in nutrition have a high benefit-cost ratio of 16 to 1.

The course provides information about what defines good nutrition, common nutritional deficiencies, the extent of malnutrition in various population groups, vulnerable demographic groups, causes of malnutrition and undernutrition, and tools and strategies for the measurement of these factors.

Creative Commons License

This course has been adapted from Global Health eLearning (GHeL) Center under a creative commons license and modified according to prevailing trends in the Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs).

Key Features of the Course

After completion of this course, students will be able to understand: 

  • Basic concepts involving good nutrition
  • Major nutritional deficiencies and their relative importance
  • Nutrition in terms of a life cycle process and the importance of the crucial "1,000 days" window of opportunity
  • Synergistic relationship between infection and nutrition
  • Major target groups for nutrition interventions
  • Underlying and basic determinants of malnutrition, using the WHO Conceptual Framework
  • Rationale and implications of a multisectoral approach for improvement of nutrition results
  • Nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions
  • Nutrition impact and outcome indicators used in global nutrition programs
  • Importance of major international and WHO initiatives and programs for the improvement of nutrition worldwide


This course highlights the roles of diet and disease as the basic determinants of nutritional status, and discusses the important underlying determinants of nutrition. These include food security, infant and young child feeding and care, as well as access to effective health services, safe water and sanitation.
This introductory module covers the basic concepts of the course. It outlines the importance of nutrition and its relationship with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This section explores topics such as, what defines nutrition and hunger as well as the importance of food quality and diversity.
This part presents an overview of malnutrition, undernutrition, underweight in children, stunting and wasting in children, low birthweight (LBW) and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), undernutrition in women and child mortality.
Module 4 identifies nutrition as a life cycle challenge, the "window of opportunity", the nutrition-disease cycle, nutrition and HIV, and nutrition and tuberculosis.
This module examines the key underlying causal factors behind malnutrition and how to address these at the community and household levels.
This discusses the following interventions: nutrition-specific interventions, HIV and infant feeding, the prevention of many nutrition-related deficiencies, food fortification strategies, and management of severe acute malnutrition in children.
This is a continuation of the previous module, and discusses promising interventions that need further evidence, as well as common interventions not proven effective at scale. This focuses in particular on food-based interventions and community growth monitoring.
This provides an introduction to nutrition assessment and indicators, the nutritional status of children and outcome indicators, and reports of nutrition practices.
This section outlines the traditional low status of nutrition, the importance of advocacy and champions, and timely international focus, as well as the outlook for the future.
This module focuses on the concerns relating to undernutrition in the PICs, in particular the heavy dependence on imported food and micronutrient deficiencies. Fiji is used as a case study at the end of the module.
Important: In order to access the completion certificate, the students need to complete the feedback, course evaluation and survey forms. Please click on the following links to submit these forms.

How It Works

Study Material

This self-paced course has been designed in a manner that enhances understanding of the core concepts and provides easy to access learning materials. The course uses a range of study material such as pre-recorded videos, lecture slides, quizzes and assignments, and is developed by a team of dedicated health education experts.

Getting Help

Connect with other students through the discussion forum, where you can easily discuss the course or debate the ideas. Need more help? Your instructors are also available online to answer any questions you might have.

Extend Your Career with a Verified Certificate

POLHN self-paced courses are recognised by Pacific Ministries of Health. Once you have successfully completed the course, you will receive an official certificate. This certificate can be used for credit to gain CPD points.

Course Questions & Answers

Course Summary

Course code: NUTR
Average module length: 30 minutes
Total course time: 3-4 hours
Number of modules: 09
Institution: World Health Organization
Subject: Nutrition
Language: English
Mode: Self-paced
Status: Ongoing

Course Author

Pacific NCDs and Health Through the Life Course

Division of Pacific Technical Support

World Health Organisation | Division of Pacific Technical Support | Suva, Fiji

POLHN has dedicated public health professionals in its DPS research team who have decade long experiences in Health Security and Emergencies, NCDs and Health Through the Life course, and Health Systems.

Course Focal Point

Pacific NCDs and Health Through the Life Course

Technical Support

POLHN IT Support Team

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