HNE-39806 Hidden Hunger: Micronutrient Deficiencies in Developing Countries


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work4
Independent study
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. A Melse-Boonstra
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. EF Talsma
dr. ir. A Melse-Boonstra
dr. ir. TJ Stomph
dr. ir. SJM Osendarp
AG Zarate Ortiz
Examiner(s)dr. ir. A Melse-Boonstra

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

At the start of the course the student is assumed to have the knowledge and skills obtained through the course HNE-26806 Introduction to Health and Nutrition in Developing Countries.

Continuation courses:

Internship or Thesis Nutrition and Health over the Lifecourse


The course Hidden Hunger will focus on the causes and consequences of micronutrient malnutrition in developing countries as well as on the available control strategies. The main focus will be on deficiencies of iodine, iron, vitamin A, and zinc. Advantages and disadvantages of strategies to alleviate micronutrient malnutrition, such as dietary diversification, supplementation, fortification, biofortification and health promotion will be discussed.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course, students are expected to be able to:
- recognise and judge the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies in low and middle income countries (LMIC) as public health problems;
- explain the relevant human metabolic processes of micronutrients (iron, vitamin A, iodine and zinc) and how this is affected by common infectious diseases;
- measure and interpret basic clinical/biochemical parameters related to micronutrient deficiencies and understand how such measurements can be implemented in the field;
- Ssmulate the possible effect of a food-based strategy on micronutrient intake taking into account dietary intake, retention factors and bioavailability;
- Aague why a certain strategy to alleviate micronutrient malnutrition will be the most efficacious in a given situation based on the available evidence;
- develop a study design to assess efficacy of a strategy for improving micronutrient status of a target population.


- lectures;
- guest lectures;
- tutorials;
- group work;
- self-study;
- practicals.


- individual written open book exam (60%), threshold for passing the exam: 5.5;
- group case study report (40%);
- group presentation (± 0.5 credits for case study report);
- obligatory presence during laboratory practical and group presentations.


Course reader via WUR-shop. Students are advised to purchase the course's recommended reference book:
Richard D. Semba; Martin W. Bloem. (editors). (2008). Nutrition and Health in Developing Countries, 2nd ed.
The book can also be downloaded as an e-book for free.

Restricted Optional for: MNHNutrition and HealthMScB: Nutritional Physiology and Health Status5AF
MNHNutrition and HealthMScF: Food Digestion and Health5AF
MNHNutrition and HealthMScA: Epidemiology and Public Health5AF
MNHNutrition and HealthMScC: Molecular Nutrition and Toxicology5AF