Nutritional Epidemiology

We all eat, and most of us eat many different foods, yet we tend to forget rather quickly what we have eaten, and we often do not know the ingredients of the dishes we consume. These aspects make it hard to conduct nutritional epidemiological research, which is why it is important to learn how to overcome a number of specific challenges. This course will cover the most important ones, while helping you to design a well-constructed nutritional epidemiological study.

The course will address methodological aspects involved in the design, conduct, analysis and interpretation of nutritional epidemiological research. You will learn about a whole range of subjects, including intra-individual variation, measurement of error, misclassification, correlated variables, population homogeneity, dietary assessment, validity/reproducibility of dietary assessment, nutritional biomarkers, and analysis issues such as energy adjustment methods and dietary pattern analyses. By studying these, you will gain the knowledge you need to ensure that your nutritional epidemiological research is accurate and the results valid. To succesfully complete this course you will need a degree in Life Sciences, a medical education is not required.

Nutritional Epidemiology is one of the online medical courses that is part of the MSc Epidemiology Postgraduate Online; the online MSc program in Epidemiology offered by Utrecht University, University Medical Center Utrecht, MSc Epidemiology and Elevate Health.

Learning objectives

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • Design a well-constructed nutritional epidemiological study
  • Explain the basic design considerations for nutritional epidemiological research
  • Explain different methods of dietary assessment and their advantages/disadvantages for different study designs
  • Explain the reproducibility and validity of different dietary assessment methods

In particular, you should be able to:

  • Name sources of variation in the diet
  • Use nutrition composition tables
  • Use dietary biomarkers to assess dietary exposure
  • Explain and utilize different methods to adjust for energy intake
  • Use different methods to perform dietary pattern analyses
  • Locate sources of measurement errors in dietary data, and apply different methods to correct these errors
  • Adjust nutrient intake for total energy intake and perform dietary pattern analyses

Course topics

  • Dietary assesment
  • Nutritional epidemiology in global health
  • Biomarkers of nutritional intake
  • Adjustments for energy intake
  • Adjusting for multicollinearity in nutritional variables
  • Dietary patterns
  • Validity & reproducibility of dietary assessment methods

Learning methods

The whole course will take place online. The following learning methods will be used:

  • Web lectures
  • Reading articles
  • Online discussion forums
  • Individual and group assignments

Course Deadlines

Week 0
Sunday before start date - introduce yourself

Week 1
Wednesday – complete assignment 1.6
Sunday – complete Learning Unit 1 and 2

Week 2
Monday – complete assignment Learning Unit 2.3.1
Tuesday – complete assignment Learning Unit 2.3.2
Sunday – complete Learning Unit 3 and 4

Week 3
Monday – complete assignment Learning Unit 6.2
Wednesday – final assignment (part I)
Friday – final assignment (part II)
Sunday – complete Learning Unit 5 and 6


To successfully complete this course, you need to actively participate in the discussion forums and complete the learning unit assignments, including:

  • Demonstrating active participation in the forums and assignments overall (25% of the final mark)
  • Creating a presentation (either on paper or as a Powerpoint, perhaps together with an optional video) with a group of peers (75% of the final mark). You are allowed to redo the final assignment once.


As this is a university course, it is covered by academic accreditation. Upon successful completion of this course, you will receive a recognized certificate from Utrecht University and the UMC Utrecht.

Entry requirements

To enroll in this course, you need:

Please note
This is an online course. You do therefore need access to an internet connection in order to be able to follow lectures, complete assignments and communicate with fellow participants. This course is offered through the MSc Epidemiology program developed by the UMC Utrecht and Utrecht University.

Course staff

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Staff member image

Quick overview

  • 3 weeks
  • 14 hrs/wk
  • Academic Certificate
  • 1.5 EC
  • Online learning with guidance and support
  • English
  • Web lectures, exercises, group discussions
  • Desktop, Laptop, Smartphone, Tablet
  • 785

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