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Principles of Human Nutrition in Public Health

East Baltimore
1st term
International Health
4 credits
Academic Year:
2021 - 2022
Instruction Method:
Class Times:
  • M W,  1:30 - 3:20pm
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor:
Parul Christian

Basic background in biology/medical sciences


Prepares students for integrating the biology of nutrition in solving public health problems globally, with application to public health research, policy and practice. Summarizes the history of nutritional sciences as related to public health and provides an integrated overview of the physiological functions of energy, macronutrients and micronutrients that influence health, and risk for disease. Topics include dietary sources and nutrient requirements, absorption, metabolism, and function. Covers advances in the use of novel assessment techniques and biomarkers in the diagnoses of deficiency and nutritional status, and describes the dynamics of the nutrition transition occurring globally and dietary underpinnings of overweight and non-communicable disease risks. Also covers emerging topics linking nutrition, immunity, gut health and the microbiome.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Summarize public health nutrition history, philosophy, and values as it relates to the core functions of public health, and the underlying nutrient related metabolic processes in maintaining health and preventing disease
  2. List the major macro- and micronutrients and explain their relevance to human health, the global distribution of deficiency disorders and associated diseases
  3. Explain energy balance and dietary intakes and the scientific rationale and public health significance of defining nutrient requirements in healthy individuals and populations, and with reference to specific physiologic states such as pregnancy and lactation, early childhood, adolescence, and older age
  4. Recognize the various tools and assessment techniques used in assessment of individual and population nutritional status and understand the landscape of various -omics biomarkers and diagnostic technologies being developed in an advancing field of precision nutrition
  5. Discuss the role of diet and intakes of macronutrients influencing weight loss and cardiovascular health
  6. Examine the global influences of food systems, socioeconomic disparities and climate change on nutrition transition in individuals and populations, and how that relates to changing burdens of non-communicable disease and the double burden of disease
  7. Undertake a deep dive into the major determinants of overweight and obesity in the US context
  8. Explain the connection between nutrition and immune function and the role of the microbiome and gut health and implications for treatment of infections and WaSH interventions
  9. Apply principles of human nutrition and evaluate their relevance to public health in a global context
Methods of Assessment:

This course is evaluated as follows:

  • 30% Problem sets
  • 25% Group Work
  • 10% Participation
  • 35% Final Exam

Enrollment Restriction:

MSPH and PHD Human Nutrition students have priority enrolling in person.

Instructor Consent:

Consent required for all students

Consent Note:

MSPH and PHD Human Nutrition students have priority enrolling in person.

For consent, contact:

Special Comments:

Class will be taught simultaneously with the virtual .41 version, for those enrolled over 50 students. MSPH and PHD Human Nutrition students have priority enrolling in person. This class blends traditional classroom time and outside-of-class activities with a corresponding reduction in class sessions. Except for the first and last instructional weeks in which the class will meet twice a week, this class will meet once a week for 110 minutes. In addition to regular homework, students are expected to spend 110 minutes a week on class work (e.g. viewing online modules and completing problem sets).