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Insel P, Elaine Turner R, Ross D, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Sudbury, 2004, 930 pages, $135.30, ISBN 0-7637-4728-9

This student nutrition textbook has been endorsed by the American Dietetic Association has been favourably reviewed by the Association and the introductory page contains career information on dietetics. Indeed, there are 18 other authors listed, most of whom are dietitians and all well qualified in nutrition. The authors state that they are committed to providing comprehensive, current, and accurate information on pressing issues and this is certainly a nutrition textbook encompassing the whole gamut of nutrition from basic biochemistry to nutrition policy issues and bioterrorism. The stated goals are to present scientifically based, accurate, up-to-date information in an accessible format, to involve students in taking responsibility for their nutrition, health and wellbeing and to instil a sense of competence and personal power in students.

This book is easy to read and most students from later years of secondary school to undergraduate university study would find the book provides all the relevant basic nutrition facts. The diagrams illustrate physiological processes very clearly and there is a real attempt by the authors to stimulate the students' interest in nutrition using a number of different strategies (certainly more that other similar textbooks). 'Quick bites' provide interesting nutrition facts, nutrition scenarios which are illustrated by a 'Bobbie' character that tracks the eating habits and health-related decisions of a typical college student. 'Think about it' thought provoking statements at the beginning of each chapter and 'FYI' sections provide more in-depth treatment of controversial topics. Students are also encouraged to purchase the dietary analysis software to analyse their own and 'Bobbie's' diet. Each chapter also contains 'Try this' activities, for example, adding water to bran, pectin and fibre supplements. These activities, could form the basis of practical exercises used by teachers. Each chapter includes a 'Learning portfolio' which contains all the key information summarised on one page: revision study questions, a summary of 'key terms' and a list of useful study points. All of these tools would assist students learning, and most would find the revision questions useful as a self-assessment tool and would appreciate the answers at the end of the book. A note-taking guide with the PowerPoint slide presentations is provided which many students would appreciate if the slides are used in the teaching of the courses. There also a number of other useful teacher resources in addition to slides: an instructor's manual and a computerised test bank of questions.

The book covers the large spectrum of nutrition and the first chapters provide an introduction to the context of eating, the concepts of nutrients and how research is applied to the study of nutrition. This is followed by information on nutrition guidelines, recommended intakes, food labelling and health claims and functional foods. As this chapter is almost entirely US based it is not that relevant to the situation in Australia. There is an appendix which includes the nutrition and health guidelines for Canada. As with all US produced textbooks the content is geared to US eating patterns, foods and local standards, which are not necessarily relevant to other countries such as Australia. There is a large section on alcohol, which is obviously geared to convince the younger readers to reduce alcohol intake. There are also similar sections on eating disorders and alternative nutrition, where nutrition messages are targeted at the teenage-young adult age group. There are ten chapters that cover the basics of nutrition: digestion and absorption and the function of macro, micronutrients, trace minerals and water in the body. Four chapters cover sports nutrition, life cycle nutrition, and one chapter on diet related to disease and one covering food safety issues (including genetically modified foods) and a final chapter on malnutrition and food security issues. Again much of the information covered in the last three chapters is specifically relevant to US legislation and US food programs and is not particularly relevant to Australia. The book also contains a number of appendices including equations, biochemical structures of nutrients and US food composition tables.

Overall the book is well written, easy to read, with excellent diagrams and graphics that are likely to stimulate the interest of students (particularly young adults) and assist in their learning of nutrition. The referencing is generally adequate, although a number of references cited refer to the non-peer reviewed literature, which while appropriate for some areas of applied nutrition are not appropriate for others. I would recommend it as a basic textbook in nutrition for students, although a significant amount of time would need to be spent explaining to students that the US recommendations, standards, food labelling etc, are not relevant to Australia. The cost is reasonable for such a comprehensive textbook.

Caryl Nowson

Associate Professor

School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences

Deakin University, Melbourne
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Title Annotation:Book Reviews
Author:Nowson, Caryl
Publication:Nutrition & Dietetics: The Journal of the Dietitians Association of Australia
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 2004
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