Module code: BMSM004

Module Overview

This module is designed to be a clinically orientated and practical course. It will lead to an understanding of the rationale behind current approaches to care of patients in obesity and weight management, as well as to anorexia and eating disorders. It links in but is independent from BMSM008 (Lipids and Essential Fatty Acids) because patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes have a high risk of dysregulated lipid metabolism.  Knowledge of these areas will help to inform and guide the clinical practice of module attendees. Practical tips, from expert clinical lecturers, will further that practical wisdom.

Module provider

School of Biosciences

Module Leader

WHYTE Martin (Biosciences)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

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

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 2

Independent Learning Hours: 100

Lecture Hours: 17

Seminar Hours: 17

Guided Learning: 10

Captured Content: 4

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes some or all of the following topics


  • Definition as BMI; limitations of BMI as a concept; body fat content

  • Epidemiology of obesity: effects of age, sex, ethnicity, geography and socio-economic status

  • Aetiology of obesity: genetic factors; environmental effects, dietary patterns; endocrine abnormalities; energy balance regulation; hormonal, metabolic and physiological influences on energy expenditure; appetite regulation; theories of satiety; abnormal eating patterns

  • Distribution of body fat: android and gynoid obesity; genetic and hormonal influences

  • Obesity management: implementing diet and lifestyle changes; surgery and physical interventions; effectiveness of treatment strategies; very low-calorie diets; fad diets

  • Motivational interviewing workshop

  • Consequences of obesity: morbidity; insulin resistance; type 2 diabetes; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, CVD.



  • Epidemiology of diabetes

  • Classification, main features, increasing prevalence, theories in relation to refined carbohydrates

  • Mechanisms of blood sugar control and insulin action: carbohydrate and fat metabolism

  • Aetiology: Type I, insulin secretion, b-cell dysfunction; Type II, defective insulin secretion insulin, effect of fetal nutrition, link with obesity; factors affecting insulin sensitivity - genetic, nutritional, environmental, pharmacological

  • The metabolic syndrome - including current debate about the usefulness of the concept

  • Atherogenic dyslipidaemia as a consequence of disturbed fat metabolism in the diabetic state

  • Tissue damage in diabetes: CVD, diabetic nephropathy, neuropathy, cataract, retinopathy, etc.

  • Clinical consequences of poor glucose control

  • Dietary management: balancing the diet; dietary management with insulin therapy; non-starch polysaccharides; eating patterns; physical activity; weight reduction and very low-calorie diets; nutritional supplementation to enhance glucose control and minimise tissue damage, potential liabilities of nutritional supplementation

  • Treatment with pharmacological agents: drug-nutrient interactions


Eating Disorders

  • Anorexia and bulimia: incidence, metabolic and pathological consequences

  • consequences from co-morbidity with type 1 diabetes

  • nutritional and psychological factors in aetiology

  • treatment of eating disorders - hospitalisation, pharmacological treatments, nutritional treatments, psychological therapy

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Coursework assignments collectively comprising a maximum of 5000 words, which may include a compulsory element. 100

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their subject knowledge and understanding (see above) and the development of their cognitive and transferable skills (see above) through the assimilation and appraisal of the literature to address the coursework questions. These short essays allow formulation of ideas and critical appraisal of topic areas.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

•               Coursework: a range of subject areas are assessed, demonstrating learning outcomes (1-8) across the range for the module

•               Students are required to submit electronically on a set deadline two months following the module.


Formative assessment and feedback

During the module, students have the opportunity to read an up-to-date research paper and to present it to the group.  Immediate peer and faculty feedback is provided.

After coursework submission, students receive feedback electronically in SurreyLearn regarding their submitted essays. The Module Organiser and the internal lecturers are available for discussion prior to, during and after the module, if necessary.

Module aims

  • To review the epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical features and management of obesity, diabetes and eating disorders.
  • To review the physiology of energy metabolism with particular emphasis on the regulation of energy intake and expenditure.
  • To review the role of nutritional factors in the pathogenesis of obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes.
  • To evaluate critically the role of micronutrients in the pathogenesis and treatment of diabetes.
  • To appreciate the value of motivational interviewing for behaviour change in the treatment of obesity and diabetes.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Explain the physiological regulation of energy intake and expenditure K
002 Define the global importance of obesity and diabetes in epidemiological terms K
003 Review the treatment of eating disorders (inc in diabetes) and the role of nutritional support in the context of global resources and the environment K SS
004 Debate the influence of nutritional factors versus environmental factors in the pathogenesis of obesity and diabetes C
005 Compare and contrast the effectiveness of various obesity treatment and management strategies C E
006 Assess the relative contribution of nutritional, pharmacological and lifestyle factors in the management of diabetes, obesity and eating disorders C
007 Apply cognitive-behavioural, and psychological techniques in eating disorders T E
008 Evaluate the impact of clinical intervention of obesity treatment and management strategies in own clinical practice T

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:

  •  be aligned with the grade descriptor for qualification at level 7 in the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) produced by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA)

  • use group work to continue to build students’ confidence in the critical evaluation of the scientific literature. Develop skills in presentation which will be useful in BMSM013 and thereafter in people’s employment. Presentation skills are appraised during the literature review and presentation session.

  • allow students to develop bonds with their peers and staff in order to foster a good team spirit which will be    beneficial for this and future modules. This is achieved through social function and group space discussion areas during session breaks

  • engage students with different professional backgrounds to maximise their learning by drawing on their own expertise and experiences to contribute to class discussions. The course attendees include UK and non-UK nationals in a variety of healthcare roles. Time is allowed for discussion and debate after each presentation and facilitated by the module organiser

The learning and teaching methods include class discussions based on lectures, critical evaluation of topical journal articles (group work), case studies and a bespoke evening meal, designed to consolidate learning during the module.

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: BMSM004

Other information

Can be taken as a stand–alone module.


Digital Capabilities:

Students on the programme have a wide range of digital capabilities, due to the varying nature of their professions and prior experience. Group work whereby students prepare presentations in a short space of time develops the skills and confidence required for the effective dissemination of science. As in other modules, students are encouraged to work together in groups, utilising collaborative tools (Whatsapp, Teams, Zoom) to communicate.   These are key skills that are increasingly important to the modern nutritionist, working in a variety of settings and teams.



It is an aspiration to include more dialogue on sustainability and food security in this module, with consideration of environmental, economic, social and cultural aspects, where an obesogenic diet is often related to non-sustainable practices,


Resourcefulness and resilience:

Students on the module will be at various stages in their journey; it could be their second taught module out of nine, or it could be their ninth. Students at the earlier stages discuss strategies with those in the later stages, to plan workloads which must often be fitted into a busy working life. This is encouraged during coffee and meal breaks. Meals are taken at round tables to encourage discussion and the ‘coffee queue’ encourages introductions and small steps to developing a network of support in the module and overall programme.



This module has a strong tilt towards the practicalities of managing obesity, diabetes and eating disorders. This will be especially useful and advantageous for future employability in this sector.

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 2025/6 academic year.