• The Open University

The Science of Nutrition

Explore the science behind what you eat with this free online course.

99,578 enrolled on this course

  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Are we really what we eat? And how do we know what is in our food?

This free online course will look to answer some of these questions, by looking at the science behind nutrition, covering aspects of biology, chemistry and physics. You’ll look at the components of food that are given on food labels and consider how these are processed by the body.

There will be some human biology, focusing on the digestive system, including the liver, and the bloodstream, which carries the processed food components to all parts of the body. You will also find out how much energy different sorts of foods supply.

You will have the opportunity to carry out some experiments to find out a little more about the role that acid plays in digestion and how enzymes work, as well as working out how much energy is contained in a single peanut.

Finally, you’ll consider some of the advice that is given about what constitutes a healthy diet and how overconsumption has led to an obesity epidemic in many countries of the world.

What topics will you cover?

  • Basic chemistry of protein, fat and carbohydrate components of food
  • Basic biology of the digestive system, how enzymes function and how products of digestion are used
  • Measurements of nutrients in prepared food and interpretation of food labels
  • Measurement of the energy available from food
  • Constituents of a healthy diet and analysis of dietary advice
  • The obesity epidemic and aspects of different diets throughout the world

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Demonstrate and understand how food is processed and then used in the body.
  • Describe and know about food allergies and intolerances.
  • Apply knowledge to understand healthy eating advice and identify how it varies in different countries.
  • Interpret and understand the basic components of food.
  • Discuss and be able to make sense of food labels and peform basic calculations of energy in food.
  • Describe and understand possible reasons for the current obesity epidemic.
  • Be able to conduct simple experiments using easily available materials.

Who is the course for?

This course is intended for anyone with a general interest in science or nutrition and does not require any prior experience of studying this subject.

What do people say about this course?

"This is a nice beginner course to nutrition: some of the topics go into the chemistry of food, you're given a lot of extra material to explore, and some nice activities to make you think about your own diet. "

Who will you learn with?

I've recently retired from the Open University. I have wide interests across science and make the most of living close to the Lake District

Who developed the course?

The Open University

As the UK’s largest university, The Open University (OU) supports thousands of students to achieve their goals and ambitions via supported distance learning, helping to fit learning around professional and personal life commitments.

  • Established

  • Location

    Milton Keynes, UK
  • World ranking

    Top 510Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Join the conversation on social media

You can use the hashtag #FLnutriscience to talk about this course on social media.