World Health Organization (WHO)

Nutrition for Growth (N4G) commitment

Reported progress


London 2013

1. Committed to support countries as they formulate good public health policies, particularly with reference to the promotion and protection of breastfeeding and adequate complementary feeding, and to strengthen monitoring systems for nutrition in countries.

2. Specifically, the organization is working on further expansion of the guidance on chronic undernutrition and maternal nutrition.

3. WHO will also complete development of a monitoring framework and will produce a report on the achievement of global targets in 2014.

Reported progress


New Regional Strategies adopted to guide future action:

- Health Ministers in the WHO African Region (Brazzaville, August 2019) adopted the Strategic plan to reduce the double burden of malnutrition in the African Region: 2019-2025; and

- In the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region (Tehran, October 2019) endorsed the Strategy on nutrition for the Eastern Mediterranean Region 2020-2030.

103 countries committed to take action on eliminating trans-fats from the food supply.

Updated status of implementing the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (BMS) and subsequent relevant World Health Assembly (WHA) resolutions (the Code) in countries: report that of the 136 countries with legal measures in place:

- 79 have measures which call for an overall prohibition of promotion of BMS in health facilities.

- 44 countries explicitly spell out a prohibition on the display of covered products.

- 84 countries explicitly prohibit the display of placards or posters concerning products.

- 30 countries have measures that call for the full prohibition of all gifts or incentives for health workers.

- 51 countries prohibit the donation of free or low-cost supplies in any part of the health system.

- 59 countries prohibit the donation of product samples.

- 5 countries completely prohibit the donation of equipment or services by manufacturers or distributors of products within the scope of the Code.

The International Forum on Food Safety and Trade co-organized by FAO/WHO/WTO (Geneva, April 2019) explored opportunities and challenges in strengthening food safety systems, particularly through trade, while consumers have access to a great quantity and diversity of food with the substantial expansion of global trade.

Following its proclamation by the General Assembly in 2018, the first World Food Safety Day celebrations on 7 June 2019 drew attention and inspired action to prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks, contributing to food security, human health, economic prosperity, and sustainable development.

For improved data quality and standardized methods of analysis and reporting, WHO and UNICEF developed updated recommendations on the data collection, analysis and reporting on anthropometric indicators in children.


In July 2019, the WHO Director General together with the principals of FAO, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP and OCHA committed to accelerate action to end malnutrition in children and develop a joint framework and roadmap for the UN Global Plan of Action on Wasting.

WHO jointly with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and UNICEF organized, under the umbrella of the Decade, the International Symposium on Understanding the Double Burden of Malnutrition (DBM) for Effective Interventions (Vienna, December 2019) where policies and program interventions for addressing the DBM to ensure an enabled environment for good nutrition at each life stage were reviewed.

WHO released in 2019 various normative products to support countries in the implementation of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) commitments including: the essential nutrition actions, assessing and managing children at primary health-care facilities to prevent overweight and obesity; advocacy brief on breastfeeding and family-friendly policies (together with UNICEF); global breastfeeding scorecard 2019 to increase commitment to breastfeeding through funding and improved policies and programs; information note on cross-promotion of infant formula and toddler milks; maternity leave legislation in support of breastfeeding; advocacy brief on breastfeeding and HIV; guiding principles and framework manual for front-of-pack labeling for promoting healthy diets; nutrition in universal health coverage; and guidelines on use of ferritin concentrations to assess iron status in individuals and populations.

In light of Covid-19, WHO has developed further normative guidance relating to nutrition including: Covid-19 and Food Safety: guidance for competent authorities responsible for national food safety control systems, and guidance for food businesses. In partnership with UNICEF and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), it developed guidance on community-based health care, including outreach and campaigns, in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic to help the continuation of nutrition-essential community-based nutrition programmes.

At an international consultation on sustainable healthy diets convened by FAO and WHO in July 2019, experts reviewed the concept of diets that support reaching goals of health and wellbeing, while also considering the evidence about economic, social, and environmental sustainability. The consultation developed 16 guiding principles for sustainable healthy diets to guide action in countries for achieving the SDGs.


WHO has supported more than 40 countries in the WHO European Region through the WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative, which measures overweight and obesity in children using standardized height and weight measurements of over 300,000 children every three years.

WHO has published several reports together with partner organizations. At the global level, the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World reports in 2019 and the 2020 Global Nutrition Report analyze and discuss global data on hunger and malnutrition, informing the monitoring of the nutrition-related targets of the SDGs. In 2019, for the first time low birthweight (LBW) estimates were published by UNICEF and WHO for 147 countries, allowing tracking of progress towards the global target for LBW reduction set at the World Health Assembly in 2012.

WHO has regularly tracked progress on the achievement of global nutrition targets and on the implementation of nutrition policies through the publication of Joint Malnutrition Estimates by WHO/UNICEF/ World Bank; and through the Global Database on the Implementation of Nutrition Action (GINA) that includes information on nutrition-related policies, actions, and mechanisms for monitoring or coordination in 201 countries and territories.

WHO has also been supporting the implementation of the Global Nutrition Monitoring Framework. Over 50 countries received technical assistance through workshops for capacity building on monitoring countries progress toward the nutrition targets, as well as for data analysis.

On course
Basis of assessment

At least half of the individual commitment components are assessed to be on course