Nutrition labs for a healthy 2018

    Dr Ali Hill, course leader for applied human nutrition at Southampton Solent University, introduces the University’s new nutrition teaching facilities and how local businesses wanting to put health and fitness at the forefront for 2018 can benefit over the coming months…

    Dr Ali Hill

    2017 is coming to an end and we naturally start to think about which last minute ‘pre-Christmas diet’ to take up – or how to start New Year off with the annual health kick.

    Here at Solent, we have recently introduced two new courses that teach health, nutrition and fitness – BSc (Hons) Applied Human Nutrition and BSc (Hons) Health, Nutrition and Exercise Science.

    We have brand new specially designed nutrition teaching facilities for these courses, which will allow students to gain hands-on experience in a teaching kitchen.

    The kitchen – or laboratory as we call it – will provide students with a space to understand basic cooking skills, modifying recipes to meet nutritional requirements and improve health – as well as learning about the influence of culture on food. It includes:

    • Ten cooking islands, each with access to cookers, sinks, toasters, kettles, food processors, fridges, freezers and dishwashers
    • Health promotion props such as fat and muscle models
    • Equipment used to guide portion size, such as food models
    • Large-scale Eatwell Guide models for use in nutrition education.

    Nutrition for local businesses

    This is the first academic year we’ve had our new labs and we have a number of objectives for the next 12 months. We already work closely with local businesses and are delighted that the new courses and nutrition labs will once again allow our students to engage with the local community, 

    gaining real-world experience while they study, including;

    • Running cook and eat sessions for staff, students, local schools and businesses, to encourage healthier eating
    • Providing nutritional consultancy eg dietary analysis, measures of health (eg BMI [body mass index], body fat, blood pressure etc) for staff and local businesses
    • Providing practical nutrition education for staff, students, local schools and businesses.

    Standing out from the crowd

    What a lot of people aren’t aware of is that the term ‘nutritionist’ isn’t protected, and so you don’t need to show any level of competency or education to use the title. We want our students to stand out from the crowd and so we’re applying to get our BSc (Hons) Applied Human Nutrition course accredited with the Association for Nutrition. This would mean that students graduate as registered associate nutritionists. A registered associate nutritionist is someone with a recognised degree in nutrition. They can then work towards becoming a registered nutritionist, which means they have a recognised degree in nutrition with at least three years’ experience on top of that.

    I use the term ‘practical practitioners’ to talk about applied human nutrition students. What we mean by that is that rather than just developing registered nutritionists, we want to create registered nutritionists who work directly with clients, including cooking with them, making sure that the nutrition advice they give is practical and something that they can stick to. For example, there is no point having a new year’s resolution

    to eat healthier home-made food if you don’t know how to cook it. Or if you have children, you need to make sure your healthy meals are quick and easy to make. We’re trying to produce professionals who can take that into account, giving practical advice that clients can stick to. 

    We have also applied to have our BSc (Hons) Health, Nutrition and Exercise Science certified with the Association for Nutrition; graduates from this degree can analyse your diet and give you advice based on the general healthy eating guidelines, but they can’t tell you what you should eat for breakfast, lunch or tea – that’s for our registered associate nutritionists to do.

    Graduates from the BSc (Hons) Health, Nutrition and Exercise Science course will be qualified in clinical exercise rehabilitation, and they will be working to bridge the gap between the medical profession and the fitness industry.

    Find out more about our health courses on the Solent website:

    Local businesses wanting to find out how our new labs and students could help your businesses improve its health and fitness, contact Dr Hill:

    023 8201 3837