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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


4.7 rating, based on 301 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
    Nice and interested course and I'm looking forward to study more and more about nutrition, ad health,big thanks to my professor, who made the subject easy ,the examples and experiments he gave us,helped a lot to understand better,thank u edX for being kind with me ...all the respect from Ferial ...
  • 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,...
  • MSatanove

    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
    Great course content. The course gives you a good understanding the three important components of food: FAT, PROTEIN & CARBOHYDRATES. How these three components are absorbed in the body, and how they are being used. How the food intake contribute to the Energy Balance and how it affects our weight when the energy balance is positive or negative. The topics on Obesity is enlightening. Obesity is NOT the result of personal choice in food, personal lifestyle whether one is pursing a sedentary or active lifestyle. It has to do with our genes inherited from our parents and also because of obesogenic environment that we are living. Society and our neightbourhood, our friends and family members do play a part in obesity.
  • Anonymous
    The course is excellent and I have learned more than I expected. The scientific explanations (biology) were clear and quite detailed. However I would love to have seen practical examples on setting up and conducting nutritional research. The General instruction was easy to follow and the accompanying notes were helpful. I also found the "light but serious" teaching method of the video presenter ( Prof. Sander Kersten) somewhat comforting, with a, "you can do this" attitude. Overall, I would recommend this course to anyone interested in the subject. I will definitely be doing the second course( Micronutrients ) in order to complete the Professional Certificate.
  • 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...
  • Anonymous
    Hi everyone,

    I loved taking part on this adventure, I have learned a lot of things about Nutrition and Health, and I can refer anyone else who will want to do so. I will not regret anytime spending watching those videos, reading the texts and taking the exams that helps me stay in touch with my health habit.

    I want to thank everyone who put all of the good together to offer us such a good courses. Special thanks to The teacher, who helps us understand every single thing about, Nutrition, Energy Balance, Weight management and Obesity and all of the other terms and definitions. Thank you so much mister Sander Kersten.
  • Anonymous
    I enjoyed this course although I would have liked to be able to spend more time on it. I think there was a good mix of reading, videos, exercises… It is not my area of work but I signed out of personal interest .

    One point I would mention is that the course will archive at a certain date which means although you can still access the contents , you won’t be graded anymore or get the certification if you have not completed it, which I did not realise when I signed up, I thought it was all “:learn at your own pace”, so basically I had to cram a lot into a short time to finish it on time.
  • Anonymous
    Overall a good course with a lot of information and good videos that are not long. The questions are also well framed nd really test our understanding. I wouldn't give full stars because the dangers of lipid in heart attacks and health was not open to unverified students.
    Prof Sander has done a wonderful job of handling this course alone and has provided interesting and humorous videos which are catchy.
    All in all, I have learnt a lot about nutrition and health, much more than the university biology courses. Thank you very much to you all. God bless.
  • 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
  • Anonymous
    This course was very informative, diverse, and educational. I have a science background that includes nutrition but even I learned a lot!
  • 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
    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,
  • Anonymous
    This is the second MOOC I take from Wageningen and I have found them very interesting and complete. This one has a lot more of reading material and an essay to write about a specific theme. It required more effort but definitely was deep and I feel it left me with a lot of new knowledge.
  • I learned a lot. Each topic is covered with short videos and brief descriptions, easy to follow and understand. Lots of examples were given for us to better understand. I strongly recommend this course if you want to better understand the effects of your daily dietary food intake.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    I have learned so much about nutrition and how our body works, much more than I anticipated. I find it the right balance of pushing me and expecting me to do my own research. The language part is a little challenging yet there is some humour and an expectation that we should understand the information at the end, not just know how to get the right answers on the test. I like that part. No dumbing down here.
  • Anonymous
    will give three starts because of the number of chances available for the graded exams...which is too small for a graded exam. Sometimes we mistakenly choose the wrong answer but since there is only one chance it is irreversible. a part from that everything is ok

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