Key Concepts of Food and Nutrition - Introduction to the distance learning module (Part II)

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Introduction to the distance learning module (Part II)


to the distance education course

"Key Concepts in Food & Nutrition"


the kick-off to the

Training Programme on

Food and Nutrition Security!


Dear Participant,

This distance learning module will guide you through the basic principles of food and nutrition. Some topics may be new, some may be a welcome refresher of basic knowledge.
In this module, your basic nutritional knowledge will be mobilized, adapted and elaborated.

The following five main topics will be covered:

In the navigation area on the left at the top of each page you can find the contents (sessions) within each topic (module).

For each module, learning objectives, in- and output, procedure and tools will be indicated. The modular approach will be job-oriented. Studying theory and cases, doing self-assignments and exercises will go hand-in-hand. But above all, an 'active' way of learning is stimulated where you regularly ask yourself "What did I learn today?" and "How can I implement this in my job?" This will contribute to an improved job performance.

We hope you will enjoy this 'distance learning' module, and that you take the advantages of e-learning:

Learning what, when and where your want !!

Below you find more information on the objectives, navigation and recommended study method.

Your course staff,

de Boer
van Dorp

Objectives and content


After studying this course, the student is updated on current key concepts needed for work in the field of food and nutrition improvement.

This course for self-study gives introductions in some of the disciplines and some of the applications that are a necessary background for those working in the field of food and nutrition security:

  • The module on the World Food Situation serves as the umbrella to the subsequent modules of the course. You will be introduced to the key concepts of food and nutrition. In addition, several conceptual frameworks (e.g. UNICEF Framework, Sustainable Livelihood Framework)useful in food and nutrition security will be discussed and you will receive updated information on the world food and nutrition situation.
  • The module on Nutritional Physiology deals with the utilization of food by the body and its contribution to the functioning of the living organism; it is a basis on which recommended intakes for different age-sex-activity groups have been developed. A two-way exercise is offered in doing dietary calculations.
  • The module on Statistics and Epidemiology gives an introduction on those concepts and tools of descriptive statistics and of descriptive epidemiology that will help you to describe the results of quantitative data in the field of food and nutrition
  • The module on Nutritional Assessment focuses on anthropometrical and dietary assessment, which provide the essential indicators used to describe the status and trends of nutrition security in a population group. In addition, other useful indicators and tools for the assessment of the food and nutrition situation will be discussed (e.g. Household Dietary Diversity Scale, Food Basket method).
  • The module on Food Hygiene & Preservation gives insight in the presence of bacteria in foods, followed by a detailed description of the etiology of food-born diseases and on ways of prevention. The module wraps up with a case in which you will investigate the causes of a cricket team's disease symptoms.

Related content for those who follow the course in Wageningen

Because prospective students of the 12-weeks Training Programme on Food and Nutrition Security at the IAC in Wageningen in previous years often did not have adequate access to computer and internet facilities, it was decided in 2003 to extend the first short course 70/15 "Current Issues in Nutrition" with one week, so as to include the Distance Education Course 70/05 “Key Concepts in Food and Nutrition”, which students will study on location in Wageningen. The 1-week distance education course is spread over the 3 weeks and interspersed with class sessions of the short course 70/15 "Current Issues in Nutrition". In that course, we will follow the life-cycle approach and use the UNICEF framework in understanding malnutrition, and focus on:

• Maternal and child nutrition
• Nutrition and the elderly
• Nutrition and HIV/AIDS
• Nutrition in emergencies
• Public health & nutrition (growth monitoring, PEM and infectious diseases)
• Nutrition and care
• Micronutrients and micronutrient malnutrition (MNM)
• Obesity and diet-related chronic diseases


This is a course that requires the equivalent of 1 week of study for those who have a BSc degree in one of the natural sciences. For them, much of the material covered in this course will not be new, but serve as a concise refresher and update on current key concepts. Students with a background in other sciences or those with lower educational qualifications may need more time. We have tried our best to explain all subjects as clearly as possible. Suggestions for improvement are very much welcome.

This is a revised edition of the course offered since 2002. The structure of that course was not changed, but the text was edited and amended where necessary.

Study guide

1. Navigation: the options

The course is organized according to a hierarchy of three levels: course, modules within the course, and sessions within the modules. A session is one (long) electronic page, that in most cases is equivalent to several printed pages. Note: A specified part within a page may be indicated with the term section.

An effort was made to make the layout of the pages user-friendly. It allows you to find your way through the three levels of the course. This makes it possible for you to chose your own path through the course, depending on your learning needs. You may wish to follow your own path, not necessarily following the linear set-up of the course. In the left upper corner of each page you find the navigation area:
• The block with the green bars shows the table of contents wherever you are in the course and allows you to find your way. Each green bar represents what we call a module. If you left-click on the bar of a module, you see the list of sessions within that module in yellow. In order not to confuse you with too much information, you can only see that list of sessions for one module at the time.
• The bar with the titles in blue just above the green table of contents is an alternative way that you can use to navigate through the course material. It shows the path where you are. The rightmost title is where you are now; by clicking any of the blue titles to the left, you go up levels, until you reach the most general level of the course, called “Home”.

On the right hand side of each page you find a vertical scroll bar. You can left-click-hold the handle and move it up and down, as you like. You can also click in the empty scroll area above or below the handle: you will go almost one screen up or down (there is some lines of overlap so that you can be sure not to miss a bit).

There are hot spots: words in cobalt blue - if you move the mouse over it, the word becomes underlined, the cursor changes into a hand and a comment box is shown with a text or with the destination address. These are hyperlinks to other parts in the course, to background documents on the server, or to outside websites. Please note that all titles are in a darker shade of blue, but they do not act as hyperlinks. If you left-click on a hyperlink, you jump to that other destination. Hyperlinks for this course are supposed to open in a new window, which you may close after use. If the hyperlink brought you to a new window, you can minimize it (if you want to consult it now), maximize it (if you want to consult it later), or close it (if you are done with it) with the – ,  "expand" or x in the upper right corner of the browser.

2. Navigation: the discipline

The ease of navigation and the multitude of hyperlinks that the course offers has an inherent danger: you may easily get distracted from your main line of study by jumping to those other places, and you may forget where you were and get lost.
Some hyperlinks are preceded with a clear invitation to press it, for instance to go to the next session in a module. Even then, you do not have to follow that invitation; maybe you charted out an other learning path for yourself. And with the navigation block you can always reach any session in any module.
Most hyperlinks are just there for your information. You do not need to go there, if things are clear enough, or if it is clear enough that you will study that topic later. If you are curious, you may wish to explore the information behind that hyperlink, but we recommend that you return rather soon to where you were, in order not to get distracted or lost. If you notice that you really need to study that other information to understand the current session, you may wish to dwell longer in that other place.

3. Exercises and foods for thought

Throughout the course there are interactive exercises for you to execute and there are yellow boxes with questions to stimulate your thinking (“food for thought”). The interactive exercises are there to activate you to apply what you learned. After you have executed the exercises, you can click at the submit-button to obtain feedback. Furthermore, you can click at or move with your mouse over question marks, which will provide feedback or a more detailed description of the corresponding concept. The “food for thought” is often a question that is posed before the subject is treated; it stimulates you to try and look for an answer based on what you know already or even to actively produce a tentative understanding yourself.
We insist, that you do not spend too much time on those questions; they should not act as a brake on your study progress!
Usually the course continues by giving feedback on the task or food for thought.

All the interactive exercises have been developed in Flash by Riet van Rossum. Riet is an e-learning developer and has played an important role in desigining (also didactically) the Flash interactive exercises.

To view the interactive exercises, you may have to download flash player from this site.

4. Anti-RSI measures

At you may download a fully functional 1 month trial. It is a programme that will force you to take regular minibrakes of less than a minute and some larger brakes of about 5 minutes with suggestions for physical exercises to relax your muscles, eyes, etcetera.



We wish you much success with this course and hope that you will enjoy it.