Nutrition Politics and Policy

Subject FOOD90027 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2014.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 30 hours
Total Time Commitment:

120 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Melbourne School of Land & Environment Student Centre
Ground Floor, Melbourne School of Land & Environment (building 142)

Phone: 13 MELB (13 6352)

Subject Overview:

This subject critically examines the scientific, policy and political debates regarding the relationship between food, nutrition and health. The social, economic, commercial, scientific and regulatory processes and structures that shape food consumption patterns, the nutritional quality of foods, and the dietary health of the population, will be explored. This includes an evaluation of governments’ food, agricultural and nutrition policies.

Topics include:

  • The science and politics of formulating dietary guidelines, nutritional reductionism in nutrition research, and debates over definitions of healthy and unhealthy foods;
  • Changing dietary patterns, the nutrition transition, food security, the “obesity epidemic”, and other health outcomes;
  • The socio-economic, commercial and environmental influences on food choices and dietary patterns;
  • The production, nutritional quality, marketing and consumption of highly processed foods and beverages;
  • Food industry strategies for food reformulation, and the development and marketing of fortified and functional foods;
  • Food labelling, and nutrient and health claims regulations;
  • The use of nutritionally-enhanced crops and foods to address global hunger and malnutrition problems;
  • Dietary guidelines and choices to create ecologically sustainable food systems;
  • Policy approaches to regulating food quality, food consumption, food marketing, and food industry practices.

The subject will draw upon the disciplines of the sociology and politics of food systems, food and nutrition policy, nutrition science, public health nutrition, and public health, and will consider Australian and international case studies.

Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  1. Describe and analyse the social, economic, commercial, political, scientific, educational and regulatory processes that shape food production quality, food consumption patterns and dietary health.
  2. Describe and evaluate the government policies and industry approaches and strategies that shape food production and consumption with respect to dietary health;
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the key frameworks, concepts, arguments and debates in the literature relating to nutrition politics and policy.
  • 1500 word essay due mid-semester, 35%
  • 3500 word essay due end of semester 65%
Prescribed Texts:

Readings will be provided via the Learning Management System (LMS).

Recommended Texts:

Recommended background reading: Marion Nestle, Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health, University of California Press, 2013; Gyorgy Scrinis, Nutritionism: The Science and Politics of Dietary Advice, Columbia University Press, 2013.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Related Course(s): Master of Agricultural Science
Master of Animal Science
Master of Food Science
Master of Food and Packaging Innovation
Master of Public Administration
Master of Public Administration (Enhanced)
Master of Public Health
Postgraduate Certificate in Food Science
Postgraduate Diploma in Agricultural Science
Postgraduate Diploma in Animal Science
Postgraduate Diploma in Food Science
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 100 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
150 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
200 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
Public Health
Tailored Specialisation
Tailored Specialisation

Download PDF version.