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Concepts of Nutrition and Healthy Eating


Subject Area Food Science
Credits 10
Start Date 11 September 2023
Duration 12 weeks
Mode of Delivery Online 
Lead Academic Prof. Eileen Gibney
Fee €1250
Application Deadline 04 September 2023

In this micro-credential you will learn about concepts of nutrition and healthy eating. Responding to the societal and consumer demand for nutritious, healthy, safe, and sustainable food requires an understanding of what ‘nutritious’ and ‘healthy’ and 'sustainable' actually mean, a fundamental knowledge of nutritional science, and knowledge of the evidence supporting current healthy eating guidelines. 

Diet is one of the biggest modifiable risk factors for preventable diseases in the world, and despite what may appear to be an ever-changing nutrition landscape with conflicting messages, there is a well-established consensus on what constitutes a healthy diet.

This micro-credential is intended to provide a comprehensive overview of the role of food and nutrition in health maintenance, promotion, disease prevention, and exploring the concept of a healthy sustainable diet. It aims to demonstrate how the nutrient requirements for good health translate into the foods that people should eat and addresses the questions:  

  • What should consumers be eating and why?
  • How much of each nutrient do they really need?
  • How does this change for different groups of consumers based on their current life stage? 
  • What are the current recommended healthy eating guidelines?
  • What is a healthy and sustainable diet and how can healthy diet patterns contribute to a healthy environment?
  • What actions are being taken to encourage healthy sustainable diets? 
  • What are the key consumer Health and lifestyle trends, and how brands are reacting to these in product development and innovation?
  • What are the consumer trends and understanding around diet and health? 
  • What are the challenges of communicating healthy eating messages to consumers?

The micro-credential will also offer the opportunity to discuss controversial questions such as: Is there a role for sugar in a healthy diet? Are there ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats? Is a plant-based, sustainable diet more nutritious than a traditional diet? 

Completing this micro-credential will equip professionals with this fundamental knowledge, enabling them to identify and address opportunities to apply nutrition concepts practically in their field, such as for new product development, improved communication, education, or guidance development.

This micro-credential gives you all the convenience that online, flexible, learning offers, as well as an upskilling opportunity with strong industry alignment, and all the benefits that being a registered UCD student provides.

Key Features

This micro-credential will benefit food or health industry professionals (food, health promotion/public health, media/marketing/brand managers, NPD innovation managers, entrepreneurs and start-ups, advisors in food and health, and policymakers) who need to have this fundamental understanding or who need to update their knowledge of the latest thinking in this field. It will also appeal to those with an interest in food, nutrition and health.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this micro-credential, you will be able to:

  • Explain the basic principles of nutrition concepts for health maintenance, promotion, and disease prevention.
  • Understand the scientific principles underpinning nutrient recommendations, dietary guidelines, and recommended food intakes.
  • Have a fundamental knowledge of the essential nutrients needed for a healthy diet, their main food sources, and the nutritive value of the main food groups.
  • Compare and contrast the recommended nutritional requirements throughout the different life stages to promote, improve or maintain health.
  • Gain knowledge on the role of sustainability in the modern diet, the complexities and challenges, and some approaches to transition to a sustainable, healthy diet.
  • Discuss consumers' understanding of the concept of a healthy diet and how this influences food choice.
  • Balance different perspectives on relevant topics by critically evaluating the evidence relating to food and nutrient intake, and the associated health consequences.
  • Reflect on how to apply nutrition concepts in their own field of work to help consumers eat a healthier diet.

This micro-credential will guide you through the nuanced landscape of nutrition to gain insight and understanding of nutrition from a scientific, evidence-based perspective. We will touch first on the concept of food based dietary guidelines and dietary reference values, and their importance in defining a standard of health and nutrition for the population. From there, we will characterise the difference between and the importance of, macronutrients, micronutrients, and non-nutrients to the human diet. We will look at what constitutes a balanced diet in today’s world and explore how our diets should change throughout the lifecycle to maintain good nutrition, in particular the role of nutrition for an aging population.  The important relationship between health, nutrition, and sustainability will be explored and how transitioning to a sustainable diet can be a win-win for both people and planet.

Finally, we will channel our new knowledge on nutrition and health into the perspective of the consumer. We will look at how we can most effectively communicate healthy eating to a consumer base. 

Topics covered: 

  • The Science of Nutrition 
  • Understanding Food Based Dietary Guidelines and Dietary Reference Values
  • Key Macronutrients, Micronutrients and Non-Nutrients
  • Dietary Patterns
  • The Balanced Diet 
  • Nutrition through the Lifecycle 
  • Healthy Ageing 
  • A Sustainable Healthy Diet
  • Nutrition and Health Labelling
  • Communicating Healthy Eating to Consumers
  • Consumer Perception of Healthy Eating and Insights 

On completion of this micro-credential, you will be equipped with key knowledge and skills relevant to nutrition and healthy eating, and will have developed deep, discipline specific knowledge. Such specific learnings can enhance your career options, progression, and capabilities.

This micro-credential will benefit industry professionals (food, health promotion/public health, media/marketing/brand managers, NPD innovation managers, entrepreneurs/start-ups, advisors in food/health, policymakers) who need to have this fundamental understanding, or who need to update their knowledge of the latest thinking in this field. It will also appeal to those with an interest in food, nutrition, and health.

This micro-credential has been developed with up-to-date input from leading researchers at UCD and industry experts.

This micro-credential is delivered through the UCD online learning platform (Brightspace) and will consist of online lectures, videos, interactive learning, discussion boards and virtual classroom environments. A repository of resources will be available to support your learning, and as a UCD student you will have full access to the library. This micro-credential includes tutorials to support your learning which will focus on how to interpret and critique evidence using example research papers.

This is a 10 ECTS micro-credential and involves approximately 200 hours of learner effort, including online lectures, tutorials, required reading and autonomous learning.

Applicants are required to hold an NFQ level 8 Honours degree (minimum 2nd Class Honours Lower) or equivalent. Ideally, applicants should be currently working in, or have previous experience of, the food or health industry/sector. Applicants who do not hold a NFQ Level 8 Honours degree or equivalent may be admitted on the basis of having considerable relevant work experience, and are advised to contact eileen.gibney@ucd.ie to determine eligibility prior to submitting an application. Applicants whose first language is not English must demonstrate proof of English proficiency as per UCD's minimum English language requirements.

All applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis.

  • Multiple Choice Quizzes - 3 x Quizzes throughout the term - 20% each
  • Continuous Assessment Workbook (written activities and reflections throughout the module based on prescribed materials, such as recorded webinars, research papers) - 40%

A grade will be provided for the Multiple Choice Questionnaires and feedback via marking rubric for written activities.

Some UCD micro-credentials can (or may in the future) be stacked into a university award. Please note that learners seeking to stack micro-credentials into an award at a later stage, will need to provide documentary evidence that they meet the relevant entry requirements for that award, for example, academic transcripts.

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