Postgraduate Nutrition Education in India: What is Being Taught? An Analysis of Course Content

  • Shweta Khandelwal PHFI
  • Tanusree Paul Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), New Delhi, India
  • Lawrence Haddad


Background: Capacity building in nutrition has been viewed as an important strategy in accelerating undernutrition reduction in low and middle income countries. This paper investigates whether current nutrition programmes in India are aligned well enough to tackle the nutrition needs of the community.

Objective:  Nutrition curricula of postgraduate modules in India are analyzed to examine whether the current nutrition programs are in accord with the three pillars of nutrition (nutrition specific, nutrition sensitive and nutrition enabling environments).

Methods: Combination of internet search, email and telephonic enquiries were used to collect the names of universities offering master’s degree in nutrition in India. The variables quantified include types of modules taught with respect to three nutrition pillars (nutrition specific, sensitive and enabling environment), quality of teaching materials, and reading lists and institutional attributes. Descriptive and bivariate analyses were used to accomplish the objectives of the study.

Results: 116 universities in India offered 146 masters’ programmes in nutrition. Each program’s modules were listed (duplicates removed). Of these 680 modules, about two thirds were nutrition specific, 5% were underlying / basic and merely one tenth focused on public health nutrition. Further analysis of reading list available for 186 modules, suggests that of the total 2235 reading lists, only 4.2% were published in journals and 9.2% were recent publications.

Conclusions: Nutrition curricula in Indian universities are dated, skewed towards the immediate determinants and over reliant on books. There is an urgent need to update and align readings to current thinking on how best to accelerate undernutrition.

Author Biography

Shweta Khandelwal, PHFI

Dr Shweta Khandelwal is an Associate Professor at the PHFI. She is a trained public health nutritionist and her current research (as an Early career fellow, funded by the Wellcome DBT Alliance) is focused on exploring the role of prenatal omega-3 fatty acids (DHA) supplementation on neurodevelopment of Indian infants. She is also interested in studying the nutrition epidemiology of cardiovascular disease risk factors among the Indian population. She is also the lead for capacity building initiatives in Public Health Nutrition (PHN) at PHFI and CCDC. Shweta has won several awards and recognition in the area of PHN.

More Details here:


How to Cite
KHANDELWAL, Shweta; PAUL, Tanusree; HADDAD, Lawrence. Postgraduate Nutrition Education in India: What is Being Taught? An Analysis of Course Content. World Nutrition, [S.l.], v. 8, n. 2, p. 264-283, dec. 2017. ISSN 2041-9775. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 20 jan. 2018. doi:
Literature reviews