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Nutrition and the Consumer Diet


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

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer are recognised as a major global challenge and the Sustainable Development Goal Target 3.4 is to reduce premature death from NCDs by a third by 2030. An important way to do this is to focus on reducing the risk factors associated with these diseases, one of which is consuming an unhealthy diet. In this micro-credential you will explore how nutrition and diet is an important determinant of NCDs, and by using Irish population food consumption data by way of example, consider the reality of how the consumer diet compares to the well-established consensus of what a healthy diet looks like. It will also consider the complex role of sustainability in the modern diet and approaches towards healthier, sustainable diets.

  • What are the major diet related NCDs and modifiable risk factors?
  • What are consumers actually eating and how?
  • How does this compare to the recommended nutrient requirements?
  • What are the potential impacts on health status, does this differ by age, and are there particularly vulnerable groups?
  • How does this differ by age?
  • What are the percentage contributions by the main food groups?
  • Do certain food groups contribute more than others to unhealthy diets?
  • How are food choice, health, and sustainability linked?

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:

  • 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 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.

Related micro-credentials that might be of interest to you include Food Regulation and Science and Standards of Food SafetyThese micro-credentials are also modules on theProfessional Diploma in Food Safety and Regulatory Science.

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