Module code: MHUM003

Module Overview

This module examines the critical role of energy balance in the control of body weight, with focus on physiological mechanisms of appetite regulation, energy intake and expenditure in relation to weight gain and obesity. It evaluates the links between excess body fat and cardiovascular disease (CVD) and explains how these links result from adverse changes in lipid metabolism and the molecular physiology of adipose tissue. These topics are then addressed within the context of how diet and lifestyle can promote and protect against the development of CVD, with critical appraisal of the evidence for the specific impacts of weight-loss and dietary macronutrients.  

Module provider

School of Biosciences

Module Leader

COLLINS Adam (Biosciences)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 90

Seminar Hours: 8

Tutorial Hours: 10

Laboratory Hours: 3

Guided Learning: 9

Captured Content: 30

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

MHUM001 and MHUM002

Module content

Introduction to the module 

Energy expenditure 

Appetite and energy expenditure 

Lipids and CVD  

Adipose tissue physiology  

Diet, Lipids and CVD   

Data Handling Workshop 

Obesity, weight loss and regain; Metabolic management of obesity 

Revision tutorials  


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination Online 150 minute online exam within an 4 hour window 100

Alternative Assessment

Re-assessments will be a reworking of the original coursework using the same data (or if required, provided class data). 

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to allow students to demonstrate Critical thinking and application of knowledge and skills to a common research finding or clinical assessment of individuals.  
Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of: 

a single 150 minute online exam (end of module) consisting of two sections: section 1 consists of 25 multiple choice questions ((approx 30 mins to complete).  Section 2is a data-based evaluation of a case study, with several short answer questions (approx 120 minutes to complete). This case study is similar in content and process to the case study in the Data Handling Workshop within the timetable module sessions. 
Formative assessment 
This will take place informally during teaching sessions and tutorials, and through in-class and online discussions
Summary exam feedback will be compiled and circulated to students.  Individual students can, upon request, also book to discuss their individual feedback with the module organiser..  

Module aims

  • To provide understanding of the variable strength of evidence produced from a hierarchy of experimental studies in nutrition
  • To evaluate the role of energy expenditure and adaptive thermogenesis in the regulation of energy balance. 
  • To elucidate the mechanisms involved in the regulation of appetite and food intake and the dietary, behavioural and dietary factors which influence this
  • To review the cardiovascular risk associated with the insulin resistant conditions of obesity and metabolic syndrome in relation to energy, adipose tissue and lipid metabolism
  • To detail the metabolic regulation of lipid lipoprotein and fatty acid transport systems, and the impact of fatty liver disease to CVD. Review current evidence for the effects of dietary sterols, fatty acids, carbohydrates and alcohol on energy balance, lipoprotein and fatty acid metabolism in relation to cardio-metabolic disease
  • To appreciate the complexities of weight loss and weight management in relation to the underlying metabolic and energetic consequence
  • To understand the supporting evidence and rationale for current, government led (¿SACN¿) national and international guidelines for the intake of dietary fats, fibre, and free sugars. Also, to be able to contextualise these guidelines with respect to recommendations for disease risk management from other sources e.g. ¿NICE¿, social media
  • To be capable of data-based evaluation of a human case history, involving the analysis and interpretation of data on dietary intake, energy balance, and CVD risk factors

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 To be able to access and critically appraise the scientific literature; be cognisant of the principles governing the strength of scientific evidence (differentiate between associative and causal relationships by understanding the hierarchy of evidence (study designs and other determinant factors such as statistical power)). KCT D, E, S
002 To understand the physiological basis of the regulation of energy balance, and to use and translate this knowledge to critically appraise alternative models of e.g. carbohydrate-insulin model (CIM), and risk manage body weight and co-morbidity, respectively. KCPT E, R
003 To be familiar with the physiological and behavioural mechanisms controlling food and energy intake, and to be able to translate and apply this knowledge in the management of body weight and CVD risk KCPT E, R
004 To understand how abnormalities in the metabolism of blood lipids and adipose tissue increase CVD risk; to be able to apply this knowledge to analyse and interpret data for the differential diagnosis and management of CVD risk KCPT E, R
005 To understand the complexities of weight loss and weight regain and energy balance, and be able to apply this knowledge to manage the underlying metabolic and energetic consequences KCT E, R
006 To be well versed and capable of discussing the supporting evidence and rationale for current national and international guidelines on diet and lifestyle modification for reducing body weight, preventing obesity and CVD risk KCPT E, R, S
007 To be able to discuss dietary approaches for the prevention of obesity and management of CVD risk in the wider contexts of the sustainability of food biosystems, and impact on the global environment KCPT E, G, R, S

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The¿learning and teaching¿strategy is designed to: 
Enable students to develop the knowledge, skills and critical thinking to be able to engage with nutrition-related issues concerning excess body weight, obesity and CVD in different contexts. 
Engage students with different learning backgrounds and maximise their learning. 
Students will learn how and where to access data, evaluate its relevance and apply their knowledge to current problems. 
Students will begin to integrate what they have learnt in previous modules with their understanding of public health issues 
The¿learning and teaching¿methods include: 

Recorded lectures; face-to-face seminar/tutorials, which provide a summary of recorded lectures, and include active learning and question and answer discussion sessions (live-streamed and recorded); data handling workshop involving problem-solving evaluation of data-based case histories; and use of online resources (literature reviews and relevant supporting literature) 

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: MHUM003

Other information

How this module aligns to the 5 pillars of the curriculum  

Digital Capabilities:  Skills in using digital resources gained in previous modules (such as using SurreyLearn, literature searching, online learning and presentation tools) are built on during this module.  While a selection of relevant literature (e.g. reviews, original research papers, articles in the social media) will be provided, students are also encouraged to familiarise themselves with searching and retrieving peer-reviewed literature from online databases (e.g. PubMed, Skopus). 

Employability: The module provides students with the latest knowledge and understanding of the metabolic inter-relationships between energy balance, body weight and cardiovascular disease (CVD). It also equips students with the ability and skill to critically appraise the evidence for the role of diet and lifestyle factors in promoting and protecting against obesity and CVD. This knowledge and ability have multiple applications in the nutritional and dietetic management of human health and disease by health care professionals in clinical and public health settings in the UK and overseas.   

Global and cultural capabilities: This module provides an overview of the epidemiological evidence in support of the relationship between dietary fats and CVD originates from cross-cultural studies performed in countries across the globe. The module also addresses the major differences in the metabolic inter-relationship between body fat composition and risk and endpoints of CVD between ethnic groups (White Caucasians, Afro-Caribbean, South Asian). Knowledge of these differences is of key importance to the management of CVD risk in different cultures.  

Resourcefulness and resilience: This module develops behaviours and skills gained in MHUM001 and 002.  The application and translation of knowledge to a ‘real-life’ scenario is provided by the evaluation of data-based case studies in the ‘Data Handling Workshop’ and coursework. These case studies require the students to think critically and independently in interpreting the health/disease risk status of the patient via the analysis of data on body composition, energy balance and blood biochemistry. The Students must then develop a risk management strategy which includes a package of appropriate therapeutic diet and lifestyle changes.   

The Students are provided with the first case study for the Data Handling Workshop well in advance of the live feedback event. Students are expected to attempt a series of questions related to the health/disease risk status and risk management of the patient prior to the live feedback session, to maximise their engagement with, and understanding of the solutions. The second coursework case study is similar in content and process to the first. As in other modules, there is also the opportunity for the solutions of both case studies to be discussed on an individual basis with the students.  

Sustainability: The sustainability of food biosystems includes provision of a diet that maintains health and prevents disease. In this respect, the module provides explicit details of all current UK (SACN) and global guidelines for the intake of dietary macronutrients for the maintenance of health and prevention of disease.  It provides the historical background, and underlying evidence for these guidelines, and when appropriate, addresses controversial aspects that may be contrary to evidence-based recommendations.  Broader aspects relevant to sustainability, including food production, processing, distribution, retail, and impact on global resources and the environment, are topics that are addressed throughout the module within the context of dietary macronutrients and metabolic health.  

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2024/5 academic year.