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Discovering Nutrition. Second edition.

Discovering Nutrition. Second edition

Insel P, Turner RE, Ross D. Jones and Bartlett, Sudbury, Massachusetts, 2006, 646 pages, $127.50, ISBN 0763735558

Discovering Nutrition is an introductory nutrition textbook designed for graduate students with little or no background in biology, chemistry or physiology. The aim is to give students the tools to critically interpret nutrition information provided in the media, on food labels and by government agencies, and to help them become 'sophisticated consumers of both nutrients and nutrition information'. To achieve this aim, the authors offer a behavioural approach to learning, challenging students to learn by a process of discovery (as the title suggests) and to understand, not just memorise, the material.

The authors combine expertise in the psychology of behavioural change, food science and human nutrition, and health education. Dr Paul Insel is Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor in the Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences Department at Stanford University. Dr Elaine Turner, a registered dietitian and Associate Professor in the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department at the University of Florida, has taught introductory nutrition for more than 20 years and has been recognised by the United States Department of Agriculture with a National Award for Excellence in Teaching. Mr Don Ross is Co-Director of the California Institute of Human Nutrition, and has special expertise in creating educational materials about health and nutrition.

The book is divided into 15 chapters. Chapters 1-4 introduce basic concepts: food choices, nutrients and nourishment; nutrition guidelines, including the 2005 US dietary guidelines and food guide (MyPyramid); complementary nutrition and food regulations; and the human body, with an overview of digestion and absorption. Chapters 5-10 focus on the nutrients, with individual chapters on: carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, energy balance, vitamins and minerals. Chapters 11-13 focus on physiology and nutritional needs of special groups, with chapters on sports nutrition, maternal and infant nutrition, and nutrition from childhood through adulthood. Chapters 14 and 15 address global issues, including food safety and technology, and a world view of nutrition and malnutrition.

Each chapter includes a comprehensive list of up-to-date references, with 11 Appendices at the back of the book, a list of Information Resources and a combined Index/Glossary. There are no individual chapters on diet and chronic diseases, but these topics are integrated into appropriate chapters, for example, heart disease with lipids, diabetes with carbohydrates and hypertension with the minerals.

A distinctive feature is the range of structured learning activities that accompany the main text in each chapter. Designed to stimulate curiosity and encourage student participation, these include: Think about It questions with realistic nutrition-related scenarios that ask students to consider how they would behave in such circumstances; and For your Information offering more in-depth treatment of controversial topics, such as usefulness of the glycaemic index. The end of each chapter features: a Label to Table section to help students make decisions in the supermarket, walking them through information or misinformation on food labels; a Learning Portfolio, which includes a list of Key Terms, Study Points and Study Questions (with answers at the back); a What about Bobbie? section, in which university student 'Bobbie' undergoes different experiences (including competing in a marathon and becoming pregnant) which provide a framework to discuss various aspects of her dietary status; and Try This!, a hands-on section which provides activities for students who like to put theory into practice. Quick Bites are also sprinkled throughout the book on topics such as social customs, origins of phrases and folk remedies.

The book is very readable and the writing style is clear and concise, although rather more colloquial than a traditional-style textbook. Throughout each chapter, key terms are in bold type the first time they appear, with definitions in the margins near the relevant text. The book is richly illustrated with colourful photographs and distinctive 3-D graphics that present technical concepts in a 'non-intimidating' way that is both artistic and scientifically sound.

One limitation for Australian and New Zealand readers is the American perspective, and much of the information and examples are not directly relevant, particularly sections on nutrition guidelines, nutrient content of foods, details in appendices and information resources. However, I would recommend Discovering Nutrition for its wealth of ideas and as a thought-provoking resource, to nutrition lecturers who are interested in teaching creatively and in engaging students with different learning styles and background knowledge.

Philippa Lyons-Wall, PhD, GradDipNutrDiet, APD

Senior Lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics

School of Public Health

Queensland University of Technology
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Author:Lyons-Wall, Philippa
Publication:Nutrition & Dietetics: The Journal of the Dietitians Association of Australia
Date:Sep 1, 2007
Words:741
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