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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 273 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.

    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...
  • 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;...
  • 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

    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
    I learned more about the macro-nutrients and over-nutrition from Wageningen University via edX and those contents further deepened my nutrition and health knowledge taken from Hong Kong University Space last year. The edX on-line learning platform was great, flexible and convenient to attend the course at our own pace. The edX course structure, grading, videos, texts and questions arrangements were good especially the examinations enforcing me to review the texts again. It was worthwhile to get the verified certificate upon upgrading the new nutrition knowledge and skills.

    Finally, prof. Sander Kersten's was great and very professional in sharing the nutrition knowledge and data.
  • 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.
  • Paula Videla-Rodriguez
    Great course with great information and varied sources of learning material and even some humour! The intermittent ungraded test questions are such a great tool to assess your understanding of the material, however, I wish they were more frequent and more extensive. I found some of the graded exam questions slightly misleading almost designed to trick you! But overall a great way to test your full knowledge of the subject. The interviews with other Nutrition Scientists in the field were of particular interest as they described current and past studies that further illustrated the information provided in the course.
  • Anonymous
    I feel this course should be mandatory at school :-). My sister, which is a molecular biologist, recommended it, dispate my lack of backround in the topic. I always felt it didn't make any sense that we know so little about our own body and, even though I still know so little because my studies have nothing to do with science, I think I have a much better understanding of how it works and my role to make the best of it through the nutrition I choose, for me and for my family. I'm very glad I did the course. It was a great investment of time and worth it, money wise as well. I totally recomend it!
  • 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 absolutely loved this course. Not only is there great content that anyone of any level can understand but it also makes you move out of the class environment and actually do some study of your own in order to full understand and learn what was needed.

    The flexibility of timings for due dates was of a huge benefit for me as I'm a mum and run a full time business.

    Overall I would highly recommend this course and I will absolutely be back to continue my study further.
  • Anonymous
    I think this is a perfect MOOC if you are interested in nutrition from a professional perspective. In my opinion it is very complete and has lots of important and reliable information. It helps you developing critical thinking in all that has to do with nutrition due to the fact there is tons of information out there which is not always reliable. The way everything is presented (videos, animations, interviews) makes it easy to follow and understand. It is highly recommended.
  • 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.

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    The freely available lectures are too focused on the chemical jargon and not on the information that can be useful to the students. This is especially the case in the "quizzes", which are often about matching arbitrary chemical names rather than reflecting any functional knowledge.

    I was particularly frustrated by the bait-and-switch of blocking some of the most important lectures (such as "carbohydrates and health", or "protein and health") behind the verified pay wall.

    Where it matters, the course seems to be very superficial.
  • 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
    A very good course, I would highly recommend. I believe what i have learned will benefit me for the rest of my life. Most of the course was easy to comprehend and extremely well explained. The structure was great and it is easy to bookmark sections to go back and review. Overall very professional and i real enjoyed the method of teaching. Thanks

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