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Nutrition and Disease Prevention
FNH 477
Instructor: Dr. Elizabeth Novak
Office: MCML 225
Office Hours: Th 1:00-2:00pm

(or by appointment)

Class Schedule: Tu/Th 2:00-3:30pm
Classroom: MCML 166
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion

Course Description

Evidence-based examination of the role of nutrition in the prevention of chronic disease.

Prerequisite: FNH 398

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Identify and evaluate the role of nutrition in certain chronic conditions (including cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and osteoporosis) and appropriately justify your evaluations.
  2. Apply your understanding of nutrition, research methods, and statistics to i) critically examine and interpret research evidence published in the peer-reviewed literature, ii) deduce the role of nutrition in disease and disease prevention, and iii) explain whether causal relationships exist between diet and disease.
  3. Work effectively and efficiently in groups using problem-based learning (PBL) strategies to locate, examine, and critically evaluate research evidence for particular diet-disease relationships.
  4. Effectively communicate your understanding of the evidence for particular diet-disease relationships and make and justify evidence-based recommendations (e.g., intervention, information dissemination, further study).
  5. Engage in valuable self-evaluation, reflect on your learning, and provide effective, relevant, and constructive feedback to others.

Class Format

We will use a combination of lectures and small group work. Generally speaking, the first half of class will be a lecture in MCML 166 and the second half of class will be spent working in small groups in MCML 360. The tentative course schedule outlines dates that will not have a small group session, on these days we will spend the whole class in MCML 166.

Connect and Course Notes

The FNH 477 Connect site will be used as an important learning and communication resource. Lecture slides, course announcements, and assignment instructions will be posted on Connect. You will also have a group area with discussion board where you can communicate with your group members. You are strongly encouraged to check Connect on a regular basis.

Required Readings

There is no required textbook for FNH 477. Required readings are listed below and are available through the “Readings” link of the course website in Connect. Discussion questions and “what you need to know” from each reading will be posted on the “Notes for Readings” link in Connect.

Additional Resources

You may find it helpful to review information on study design from FNH 398: Research Methods in Human Nutrition or consult the textbook, Foundations of Clinical Research: Applications to Practice, 3rd ed by Portney & Watkins (2009). This book is available on reserve at the library.


The calculation of your final grade will be based on the following assessments (each is described below):

Activity Dates Value (%)
Clicker responses Throughout the term 3
Group Work

Problem 1: Cancer

Problem 2: Chronic Disease

  1. Feb 5 ( Evidence Table; 10%) & Feb 11 (Individual Report; 15%)
  2. April 1 (Evidence Table: 10%) & April 7 (Individual Report; 15%)
Providing Feedback Due Jan 28, Feb 11, Mar 17 & April 7. 2
Midterm Feb 26 – in class 20
Final Exam TBD- During formal exam period 25

Clicker Responses

All students in FNH 477 are required to have access to an iClicker that is registered to their name and student number. Please click on the “Register your clicker here” link in the left sidebar menu of the course website in Connect to register your clicker. Bring your clicker to class with you for each class. Clickers will not be used during small group sessions. If you respond to all of the clicker questions on a particular day, you will receive one point. If you miss a question, your mark will be calculated based on the proportion of questions answered (e.g., if you responded to 4/5 questions, your mark for that class will be 0.8/1; if you miss all of the questions you will receive 0/1 for that day).

Group Work

Working in small student learning groups, you will identify and provide evidence for two diet-disease relationships. For each of these, you will submit two items: 1) an Evidence Table summarizing the key papers you critiqued in order to answer your PICO question (one Evidence Table is submitted on behalf of the whole group), and 2) an Individual Report in which you communicate your individual response to the PICO question developed by your group and suggest the most appropriate next step, considering the evidence you evaluated (each student will prepare and submit their own Individual Report). Each Evidence Table is worth 10% of your final grade. Every student in the group will receive the same grade on the Evidence Table, provided group members agree that each student participated and contributed appropriately to the group’s work in developing the Evidence Table. Each Individual Report is worth 15% of your final grade. Assignments are to be submitted on Connect by 11:59 pm on the day they are due. Please refer to the Instructions for Evidence Tables and Individual Reports on Connect for more detail on these assignments.

Providing Feedback

To encourage communication within your group, you will be asked to evaluate and provide feedback for yourself, your group and your group members using the S (strength) – I (opportunity for improvement) – R (remedy) approach. Your feedback should be posted on your group’s discussion board in Connect. Your TA will check to ensure that you have posted feedback, but will not comment on your discussion board. You will be asked to post feedback four times throughout the term, once during each of the following periods: Jan 15-28, Jan 29-Feb 11, Mar 4-17, Mar 18-April 7. Each post will be worth 0.5% of your final grade for a total of 2%. Late or incomplete postings will not be counted.


The midterm will be held in class in MCML 166 on Feb 26. The midterm will include multiple-choice, true or false, and short answer questions. The emphasis will be on content from the lectures and assigned readings. The content of your small group sessions will not be examined directly, though you will be expected to apply the skills you develop through your group work (e.g., ability to form good research questions, plan literature search strategies, use evidence to make conclusions, rate the quality of research evidence, etc.).

Final Exam

The final exam will be held during the formal examination period. It will include multiple-choice, true or false, and short answer questions. Like the midterm, the emphasis will be on content from the lectures and assigned readings, but you will be expected to apply skills you are developing through your group work (e.g., ability to form good research questions, plan literature search strategies, use evidence to make conclusions, rate quality of research evidence, etc.).

Expectations of Students in FNH 477

  1. Be present and prepared for all classes and small group sessions. If you must miss a class or group meeting due to illness or other emergency, it is your responsibility to obtain notes for that day and complete any work you may have missed.
  2. Actively participate in class and in your small group, ask if you have questions concerning the material.
  3. Connect what you learn in this course to your existing and developing networks of knowledge and skills. Take the knowledge and skills gained as a result of this class forward with you to approach nutrition research with a critical informed eye.

Assistance Available to Students

You are strongly encouraged to meet with the instructor if you have questions, comments, or suggestions for the course. You may also post questions about course material on the Connect discussion board for your fellow students; note that the instructor will not be available on the discussion board to answer your questions.

Additional Policies

The final exam will be governed by the relevant university policies. Exams will be re-marked upon receiving a written request. The outcome of the re-marking can go either way. Use of recording devices (cellphones/cameras/recorders) are not permitted while the class is in session.


Academic honesty is a core value of scholarship. Students are reminded of the importance of the University’s regulations regarding academic misconduct and plagiarism (excerpted below, available at,54,111,959 and

Ignorance of the appropriate standard of academic honesty is no defence to an allegation of Academic Misconduct. Academic Misconduct that is subject to penalty includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. Plagiarism. Plagiarism occurs where an individual submits or presents the work of another person as his or her own. Scholarship quite properly rests upon examining and referring to the thoughts and writings of others. However, when excerpts are used in paragraphs or essays, the author must be acknowledged in the text, through footnotes, in endnotes, or in other accepted forms of academic citation. Plagiarism extends from where there is no recognition given to the author for phrases, sentences, or ideas of the author incorporated in an essay to where an entire essay is copied from an author, or composed by another person, and presented as original work. Students must ensure that when they seek assistance from a tutor or anyone else that the work they submit is actually their own. Where collaborative work is permitted by the instructor, students must ensure that they comply with the instructor’s requirements for such collaboration. Students are responsible for ensuring that any work submitted does not constitute plagiarism. Students who are in any doubt as to what constitutes plagiarism should consult their instructor before handing in any assignments.
  2. Cheating. Cheating includes, but is not limited to: falsifying any material subject to academic evaluation; having in an examination any materials other than those permitted by the examiner; and using unauthorized means to complete an examination (e.g. receiving unauthorized assistance from a fellow student).
  3. Submitting the same, or substantially the same, essay, presentation, or assignment more than once (whether the earlier submission was at this or another institution), unless prior approval has been obtained from the instructor(s) to whom the assignment is to be submitted.

In other words... Be sure to do your work with honesty and integrity. Appropriately acknowledge sources of information. Discuss course work with classmates and learn from each other as you complete your work on the cases. You are welcome to discuss your Individual Reports with your classmates, but please ensure that you write the report independently.

Tentative Course Outline

Date Preparation before class Readings Focus in class (MCML 166) Focus in Small Groups (MCML 360)
Jan 8 Review: Course syllabus & Connect Introduction to the course Expectations for small group work No small group session
Jan 15 Read: Problem 1 Day 1 disclosure on Connect Evaluating the evidence Problem 1, Day 1
Jan 22 Ch 86: Epidemiology of Diet & Cancer Risk Cancer Problem 1, Day 2.
Jan 29 Hu 2009, Mente 2009 Cardiovascular disease Problem 1, Day 3
Feb 5 Example Example Cardiovascular disease Problem 1, Day 4

Evidence Table due Feb 5, 11:59 pm Individual Report due Feb 11, 11:59 pm

Feb 12 Ch 66: Diet & Blood Pressure Hypertension No small group session
Feb 19 No Class No Class
Feb 26 Midterm Exam Review of Problem 1
Mar 4 Read Problem 2 Day 1 disclosure Ch 58: Obesity: Epidemiology, Etiology, and Prevention Obesity Problem 2 Day 1
Mar 11 Watch: Peter Attia: What if we are wrong about diabetes? Ley 2014 Type 2 Diabetes Problem 2 Day 2
Mar 18 Ch 90: Prevention and Management of Osteoporosis Osteoporosis Problem 2 Day 3
Mar 25 No Class No Class
Apr 1 Calkins & Devaskar, 2011 Fetal origins of adult disease Problem 2 Day 4 Evidence Table due April 1, 11:59 pm Individual Report due April 7, 11:59 pm
Apr 8 Course Wrap Up


File:FNH 477 syllabus 2016.pdf