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Wageningen University

Nutrition and Health: Macronutrients and Overnutrition

Wageningen University via edX


Food plays a central role in our society but few people actually understand what it does to our bodies. Learn more about nutrition and how our diet profoundly impacts our current and future health. This introductory nutrition course addresses the relationship between nutrition and human health with a focus on health problems related to overnutrition.

In this course, Professor Sander Kersten from Wageningen University will introduce you to the chemistry of the three macronutrients fat, carbohydrate and protein. You will learn how macronutrients are absorbed, stored, and metabolized for energy, and you will gain a contemporary view of how different types of fats, carbohydrates and proteins affect human health. Moreover, the course will cover energy homeostasis and the regulation of bodyweight, and provides ample coverage of the topic of obesity. Finally, it will make you familiar with nutritional research and research methodologies.

For whom?

The MOOC Nutrition and Health: Macronutrients and Overnutrition is especially useful for health care professionals and people working in the food industry with a non-nutrition background. You will develop a critical mindset by learning to better weigh and interpret information about food, nutrition and health.

This course, is part of the Food, Nutrition and Health Professional Certificate Program of Wageningen University & Research. Did you already complete Nutrition and Health: Micronutrients and Malnutrition? That is the other course in the Food, Nutrition and Health Professional Certificate Program. To explore other learning opportunities about nutrition, have a look at the courses:

  • Food Risks
  • Human Microbiome
  • Nutrition and Cancer
  • Nutrition, Heart Disease and Diabetes


Module 1: Basic Principles
In the first module you will be introduced into the basics of nutritional science
and you will learn about the different study designs that are used in nutrition

Module 2: Carbohydrates
In this module you will be introduced to the basics of carbohydrates.

Module 3: Carbohydrates and Health (verified learner only)
In this module we will focus on the health effects of one specific group of
carbohydrates: sugar.

Module 4: Lipids
This module will teach you the basics of fats or lipids.

Module 5: Lipids and Health (verified learner only)
This module will start out by discussing cardiovascular (heart) disease and risk
factors for cardiovascular disease, and will go on to explore the effects of fatty acids
on cholesterol.

Module 6: Proteins and Health
The module starts with the basics of dietary protein, and will go on to address the
question of what specific health effects can be attributed to dietary protein.

Module 7: Energy homeostasis sand energy balance
In this module we will look at the balance between food (energy) intake and exergy

Module 8: Weight management
This module concentrates on weight management and the topic of obesity.

Module 9: Nutrition and Sports (verified learner only)
In this extra module we look at the impact of nutrition on exercise

Taught by

Sander Kersten

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4.7 rating, based on 287 reviews

Start your review of Nutrition and Health: Macronutrients and Overnutrition

  • Very informative course, that explains important nutrients and their metabolism and effect to body/ health. This course also discusses some options to live healthier lifestyle, what works, what doesn't
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This course offered a good amount of information on nutrition and micronutrients and was overall engaging and interesting. But, I had two issues with it. First, the amount of information given to students auditing the course is insufficient, in my opinion;...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I have thoroughly enjoyed this course so much and definitely recommend it. I have told many friends about EDX and they too have enrolled in courses that adhere to their specific interests. One of the factors of the course I enjoyed are the many visual...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    No list of lifestyle factors that contribute to longevity would be complete without nutrition . There is broad consensus that what we eat contributes significantly to our health. Maintaining good health is a critical factor in longevity. Unfortunately,...
  • Anonymous
    This course was very informative, diverse, and educational. I have a science background that includes nutrition but even I learned a lot!
  • Anonymous
    Very interesting course, covering the basics of Health & Nutrition by taking a look at the three macro's. A very positive point of this course was that it combined extensive information about biological processes with amusing video's about cooking, interviews...
  • MSatanove is taking this course right now.

    Sander Kersten really knows his stuff. His English is not perfect, but he is clear. And he has a quirky sense of humour. I particularly like that he presents a very balanced view of controversial subjects. This is a very good course for anybody wanting basics in nutrition science and some clarity around all the conflicting information about nutrition. Also, both he and the TAs are far more active in the discussion forum than I've seen in any course so far (and I've taken or dabbled in a few), except perhaps Understanding the Brain from the U of Chicago, which also was very good. I like, too, that several weeks are opened at once, and it's possible to work ahead. I'm close to done with this course and thoroughly enjoying it.
  • Anonymous
    A phantastic course. The course has given me a much more thorough understanding. The videos are very well done and the transcripts next to the videos are extremely helpful. I had a decent understanding of nutrition before but I learned a lot regarding the digestion and metabolism of the three macronutrients. I also found the first section on the design of research studies very insightful. And the recommendation to use the pubmed website to get the latest scientific views on certain nutritional subjects was also very helpful, I have already looked up various topics I was interested in. So all in all a big thank you to the team at Wageningen for this excellent course.
  • Anonymous
    I cant believe that's such a comprehensive knowledge like this are given out there and can be easily reached for all people who hunger for study . The lectures are full of knowledge with science base, it also included many important "key word" for me to keep digging into the health and nutrients field. The way teacher deliver the lectures is very understandable, logical and amusing. Actually the devotion of teacher is the best part, I can't ask for more. He is wholehearted in teaching. I'm so appreciate about it. Thank all the team.
  • Anonymous
    Definitely worth my time and money. The information provided by this course is current and evidence based; I have been more educated than I expected to be. I can do so much with the knowledge I have gained from this course. If you are a clinician needing basic nutrition education to help you better assist your patients with nutrition related issues or someone looking to further your education in the nutrition field this couse is for you. Even better is the complete professional programme.
  • Anonymous
    I like this course very much. It's very good to learn about nutrients and its effect on health. I have first time known about the basics of foods and nutrient. I have also learned about the effects of nutrients on health.

    The only thing which I don't like so far is that I can't have full access of the course because I'm the Audit student. I want to learn more about it but it's still one of the best courses for the people who are interested to learn about the nutrients.

  • Elena Nunez completed this course, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    I found this course extremely useful when you are trying to understand the basic concepts of nutrition and how your diet affects your health and general well-being.
    It also provides very valuable tools to analyze the enormous amount of information related to food, nutrition and health that is now available to the general public through the media, helping us to separate truth from uninformed and misleading conclusions.
    On the other hand, Professor Sander's great sense of humor and an excellent team and great technological platform made me really enjoy this course
  • Anja Rentier
    This MOOC teaches about macronutrients like carbohydrates, protein and fats. The knowledge goed very deep and you get a good understanding how the body works in consuming the macronutrients. The MOOC is supported by movies and text, the Professor does this really well, has a clear voice and brings in some humor.
    I enjoyed this course until the end.
  • Anonymous
    I have learned more about nutrition in this course … it was more than helpful… it cover all subjects you need at your journey of studying nutrition.. and helping you to discover what you .. what is right to eat and what is not .. what is causing diseases…. Helping you to leave healthy and preventing some diseases and now more about other
  • Anonymous
    I have learnt so much from this course! The course materials are presented in an organized yet interesting way, and are easy to follow and understand. I found Professor Kersten’s lectures very much enjoyable. Difficult and complicated concepts are explained clearly. Each segment is short and concise, covering just the right amount.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    Interesting subject. I learnt some facts (which are nice to have but not most important to me). I rather liked the overall ongoing insights on what is scientific consensus (and what not) and think that this part could have been more deepened out (but probably that was not the aim of this course). I wonder, when I would be student, would this be all? We just scratched on this subject. I am wondering if it is possible to reach a broader audience with the information we received without all the specific terminology (or in other words: are the specialists those who know the name of a certain enzyme or disease (this was sometimes tested))? So, to conclude: it was interesting but personally I would have expected a deeper and broader knowledge.
  • Anonymous
    The instructor was nice and clear! It really helped me that there were both videos and text to help me study the material. I found the material to be very interesting and also important to know in our current society, you should definitely give this one a try, it was not too hard and still very interesting
  • Anonymous
    I learned a lot of very important information and facts that were unknown to me

    In general, it was a very useful course, and I am happy that I received it, and I am also happy with the way it was presented. I thank everyone who presented it with this picture.

    I am very grateful and thank you
  • Anonymous
    I really liked this course and found it educational as well as interesting. I would recommend this course to people who are interested in learning the basics in nutrition. I personally took it because I'm interested in studying nutrition and therefore wanted an introduction to the bases.
  • Anonymous
    A good course to understand Nutrition and it's effect on Health. Generally relevant and easy to follow, though some parts are a little technical but that's fine as some would be keen on those areas.

    Prof Sander Kersten makes the learning fun. Thank you for the edX learning opportunity,

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