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Nutrition and the Consumer Diet


Subject Area Food Science
Credits 10
Start Date 09 September 2024
Duration 12 weeks
Mode of Delivery Online 
Course Leader (opens in a new window)Professor Eileen Gibney
  • €1250
    50% Learner Fee Subsidy
Application Deadline

26 August 2024

In the Nutrition and Consumer Diet micro-credential, learners will develop the skills and knowledge to positively influence the development and promotion of nutritious food for the consumer market. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Target 3.4 recognises the major global challenge of NCDs (non-communicable diseases) such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer, and aims to reduce premature death from NCDs by one-third by 2030. A pivotal strategy to achieve this goal will require the food sector’s prioritisation of healthy food options.

In this consumer-focused micro-credential, you'll delve into the crucial relationship between nutrition, diet, and non-communicable diseases across the different phases of the human lifespan. Drawing upon Irish population food consumption data as an example, you'll examine how consumer diets align and deviate from the well-established consensus of what constitutes a healthy diet. From this data, you’ll build on the knowledge to provide the consumer with nutritious quality foods and adopt approaches that enable and encourage healthy eating, helping to generate a positive impact on consumers' health. Furthermore, the course will consider the complex role of sustainability in the modern diet and approaches towards healthier and more sustainable diets.

The micro-credential will be particularly valuable for professionals in the food industry, including chefs, food manufacturers, marketers, policy-makers, nutritionists, product developers, and more, equipping them with the necessary insights to meet consumer demands and needs for healthier food options. By acquiring these skills, learners will be able to create and market innovative, nutritious products, cater to dietary restrictions and preferences, work to overcome some of the obstacles and barriers to providing healthy food options, and contribute to the prevention of NCDs.

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:

  • Describe key current diet and nutrition-related health issues of public health concern.
  • Examine the evidence linking foods, nutrients, and dietary patterns to the aetiology of the major diet-related non-communicable diseases.
  • Source and interrogate key literature, as it relates to the quantity and quality of key nutrients consumed in the diet.
  • Link food consumption data/information to its markers of diet quality and health.
  • Explore and evaluate alternative positions on controversial topics in relation to current healthy eating advice and the role of nutrients in health and disease.
  • Appreciate the complex relationship between food choice and sustainable eating patterns.
  • Defend the concept that nutrition should be viewed as a quality characteristic of food.
  • Reflect on how to identify areas of opportunity in their own field of work to positively influence the development and/or promotion of more nutritious foods.

With a focus on whole foods and dietary patterns, the relationship between diet and health is explored, examining key issues relevant to the modern diet. Based on findings from Ireland's national surveys on food and beverage consumption, plus evidence-based research findings, key nutrient intakes are linked to their central role in both protecting and maintaining health but also as risk factors for ill health, arising from deficiencies, imbalances and excesses. Controversies of the modern diet and the evolving science on the major preventable chronic diseases, as well as other nutrition and diet-related health issues will be explored. 

Topics covered:

  • The Burden of Nutrition and Diet-Related Non-Communicable Disease. 
  • Diet and Nutrition Modifiable Risk Factors.
  • Nutritional Surveillance.
  • What are Children & Teens, Adults and the Elderly Eating and the Health Implications? 
  • Processed Foods and Sugar-Sweetened Beverages.
  • Consumer Insights.
  • Food Choice, Health and Sustainability.

As the consumer is the key stakeholder in the food chain, it is essential that professionals have the knowledge to provide the consumer with nutritious quality foods and adopt approaches that enable and encourage healthy eating in the context of their individual roles, thereby generating a positive impact on consumers' health. 

Using case studies from the Irish and UK population, you will be equipped to interrogate available research and data and interpret it in the context of your individual role. This will help in identifying and targeting areas of opportunity to positively influence both the development and promotion of nutritious food for consumers to deliver improved health outcomes.

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

This micro-credential has been developed with up-to-date input from leading researchers within 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 (opens in a new window)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 micro-credential 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.

Please note: Learners can avail of only one form of funding per application. 

Micro-Credentials Learner Fee Subsidy-Human Capital Initiative Pillar 3

The HCI Pillar 3 Micro-credential Learner Fee Subsidy has been introduced to enable more learners to address critical skills gaps and engage with lifelong learning through micro-credentials. The HCI Pillar 3 Micro-credential Learner Fee Subsidy is funded by Higher Education Authority (HEA) and the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. 

HCI Micro-credential Learner Fee Subsidies are available on identified micro-credentials only and in fixed numbers from March 2024 until October 2025.  

Please see Eligibility Criteria for further information.