e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Background to the eLENA project

Nutrition is a foundation for health and development. Better nutrition means stronger immune systems, less illness and better health. Good nutrition was an important component of the effort to reach several key Millennium Development Goals, and now contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, including number 2, which is to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture, and number 3, which is to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.


Malnutrition in all its forms increases the risk of disease and early death. Today the world increasingly faces a double burden of malnutrition that includes both undernutrition and overweight and obesity, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Undernutrition contributes to early deaths for mothers, infants and young children, and impaired physical and brain development in the young. At the same time, growing rates of overweight and obesity worldwide are linked to a rise in noncommunicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Interventions: why don’t they always work?

Although interventions to address these numerous nutritional problems have been identified, malnutrition is still a major public health problem globally. In part, this is because many interventions are either not implemented when they are needed, or they fail to reach a significant portion of the target population.

How eLENA will help

Access to the latest nutrition guidelines, recommendations and scientific evidence can help countries make appropriate choices to address their health and nutrition challenges. Decision-makers will also benefit from an understanding of the often complex biological rationales for each of these interventions, and the behavioural and contextual factors which could affect the success or adaptability of the intervention.

The WHO e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA) provides access to evidence-informed nutrition guidelines along with other key information and resources to help countries accelerate the implementation and scale-up of effective and safe nutrition interventions.

History of eLENA

The eLENA project was first initiated by the WHO Department of Nutrition for Health and Development in 2009. The project gained momentum in 2010, when the World Health Assembly passed a resolution urging Member States “to increase political commitment in order to prevent and reduce malnutrition in all its forms” and requesting WHO “to strengthen the evidence base on effective and safe nutrition actions to counteract the public health effects of the double burden of malnutrition" (WHA 63.23). eLENA was officially launched in August of 2011.

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