Nutrition: An Introduction

Milk collector Sabina with husband Vutto & two daughters, Maisha (left) and Manisha, 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 percent of deaths in children under five 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.

Course under review


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-day 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.


  • 3 hours


  • Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Course Authors: 

  • Gwyneth Cotes, SPRING

  • Altrena Mukuria, SPRING

  • Abigail Kaplan Ramage

Course Managers: 

  • Amy Lee, CCP

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