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About Nutrition

Key points

  • Good nutrition is essential to keep current and future generations of Americans healthy across the lifespan.
  • Poor nutrition affects our economy.
  • CDC works with communities, states, national groups, and global partners to improve nutrition.
Man reaches for an orange in a display of bananas, apples, and oranges.

Why it matters

Good nutrition is essential across life stages, from infant and child growth and brain development to healthy and safer pregnancies and healthy aging.

Micronutrients, often referred to as vitamins and minerals, are vital to healthy development, growth, disease prevention, and well-being. Here are six essential micronutrients and why they are important to our health.

Breastfeeding helps protect against childhood illnesses. Such illnesses include ear and severe lower respiratory infections, asthma, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Low levels of certain vitamins and minerals can result in mental impairment and central nervous system defects in infants.

Most mothers start out breastfeeding, but about 6 in 10 stop sooner than they planned. Low rates of breastfeeding add more than $3 billion a year to medical costs for women and children in the United States.

Illustration where 1 in 10 carrots is highlighted.
Fewer than 1 in 10 children and adults eat the recommended amount of vegetables.

Adults with healthy eating patterns live longer and are at lower risk for serious, costly health problems. Examples include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

What CDC is doing

CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO) works with three state and local programs to ensure access to good nutrition for all people:

Through the International Micronutrient Malnutrition Prevention and Control Program, we help improve vitamin and mineral nutrition in the United States and globally.

We also collaborate with the Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network (NOPREN). DNPAO created NOPREN to foster understanding of effective policies to prevent obesity. Prevention efforts of focus are improved access to affordable, healthier foods and beverages in childcare, schools, worksite, and other community settings.


We encourage state and local organizations to implement policies and activities to:


In the United States, the percentage of births in hospitals with recommended maternity care practices to support breastfeeding increased from 3.8% in 2010 to 28.9% in 2021.

Many states require licensed childcare programs to follow science-based infant feeding and nutrition standards. This affects the meals and snacks of millions of young children.

In 2023, more than 6,100 schools obtained and offered salad bars. This increased healthy fruit and vegetable options for more than 3.5 million children and school staff.

Iodine is added to more prenatal vitamins for pregnant and breastfeeding women to support the infant's growth and cognitive development.