HNH-51806 Interventions for Healthy Ageing in Humans and Model Species

This Study Handbook is published with reservation. It is not official yet.


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Individual Paper2
Group work6
Course coordinator(s)prof. dr. ir. CPGM de Groot
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. ir. CPGM de Groot
dr. WT Steegenga
P Grootswagers
dr. S Timmers
dr. ir. O van de Rest
WEAM van Rookhuijzen
Examiner(s)prof. dr. ir. CPGM de Groot

Language of instruction:

NL and/or EN

Assumed knowledge on:

Prior MINOR courses.

Continuation courses:

The course Interventions for Healthy Ageing and Model Species, can be combined with the other five courses in the minor Healthy Ageing in Humans and Model Species


The course Interventions for Healthy Ageing and Model Species, provides future life-science researchers basic knowledge and skills to address the challenges of healthy ageing in all its aspects. It combines the different relevant disciplines from basic (molecular) biological sciences to social sciences.
In this course, students learn how to integrate the influence of nutrition, lifestyle, physical activity and environmental factors on the ageing process and how these factors can be used to improve healthy ageing. Students will be introduced to interventions in model species, interventions in human individuals, and lifestyle interventions at community or population level to promote healthy ageing in human populations. These three course elements are described below.
Mechanisms underlying healthy and unhealthy ageing in humans and model species
In the first part of the course, students will focus on the mechanisms of ageing in higher organisms (mammals). The concepts of primary and secondary ageing and the effects of the ageing process on tissues and organs will be explained, the important role of reactive oxygen species and the immune system in the ageing process will be addressed and the importance of genetic and epigenetic factors in the ageing process will be clarified. Furthermore, an introduction will be given about the role of life style factors for healthy and unhealthy ageing and examples of ageing research will be presented. In addition, students will be able to assess the effects of caloric restriction and physical activity (interventions) on longevity in higher organisms.
Interventions for healthy ageing in human individuals
Increasing age often brings with it a combination of diseases and conditions such as undernutrition/ oral health problems, osteoporosis, cognitive decline and dementia, and sarcopenia. In this second part of the course, students will obtain knowledge of the causes, consequences and diagnosis of these diseases and conditions. Moreover, students will have an overview of the scientific research investigating the effects of nutrition, cognitive functioning, physical performance and physical activity (interventions) on these ageing-related diseases.
Interventions to promote health in elderly populations
After studying the ageing process as caused by both genetic and behavioural factors, and the impact of ageing on physiological functioning in humans, students will be introduced to designing behaviour change interventions that help to prevent diseases associated with increasing age and to promote general health in elderly people. Examples related to physical activity are resistance and endurance training, weight bearing exercise, and fall prevention. Relevant food behaviours are combined vitamin D and calcium intake, protein intake, and consuming fatty acids and/or fatty fish. Other important health behaviours are adhering to medications, and being socially and cognitively active. Students will be introduced to theories and empirical research relevant for understanding health behaviour, and which interventions could be employed to promote health behaviours.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course the students are expected to be able to:
- understand the mechanisms of ageing in higher organisms;
- define and understand the concepts of several theories explaining the cause of ageing;
- explain how energy metabolism and respiratory function changes during ageing, and how this may be related to well-being and performance;
- explain how cognitive decline, sarcopenia, oral health concerns, undernutrition and osteoporosis affect healthy ageing;
- write an editorial assay about a scientific manuscript;
- define interventions that promote healthy ageing in human populations.


Lectures will be delivered by university staff working in the fields of molecular biology and nutrigenomics, animal physiology, nutrition and health and communication sciences.
Assignment I (group work): Mechanisms of ageing
During the course, time is scheduled to work on this group assignment
Practical: Respiratory function
Assignment II (individual): Writing an editorial essay
Students will choose one article from the provided articles and will write an editorial essay about that article. Students need to show that they can objectively and concisely explain the aim, objectives, methods, results and conclusion of the article of choice, can critically assess the scientific validity of the paper and assess counter-evidence, can put the article in perspective with other reported findings, can speculate on implications of the paper for future concepts or practice, and can suggest possible routes to new evidence to answer the questions posed in the opening paragraph. During the course, time is scheduled to work on the individual assignment and to consult a tutor on this assignment (self-initiated by the student).
Assignment III (group work): Health promotion assignment
During the course, time is scheduled to work on this group assignment.
During the course, time is scheduled for 'self-study' to read the provided literature and to learn for the final exam.


The assessment of this course is based on a written exam and three assignments:
- assignment I (Mechanisms of aging), Assignment II (Editorial essay) and Assignment III (Health promotion).
Students are required to have a mark of 5.5 for each of these 4 individual parts to successfully finish the course.
The marks of the individual parts will be weighed as follows:
- written exam (50% of final mark);
- average mark on Assignments I, II and III (50% of final mark).


Key papers/reviews related to lectures, selected book chapters.

Compulsory for: WUHAHBSc Minor Healthy Aging in Humans and Model Species2AF