I was recently asked, by a 7th grader, if nutrition is a STEM subject. Her reason for asking was simple, her mom’s on a diet and follows 30 different people on social media, each giving different ‘solutions’. She also added that when someone says ‘We provide personalised services, it is usually to suit their personal needs and not that of the client’s.’
So, Where does Nutrition feature in STEM?
Nutrition is indeed a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subject, and its significance in our lives cannot be overstated. STEM subjects are those that are based on scientific principles and require a deep understanding of mathematics and technology. Nutrition fits squarely within this definition, as it involves the study of the nutrients in food, their effects on the body, and the scientific principles behind food production, digestion, and metabolism.
Nutrition is deeply rooted in science. It encompasses the study of various nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals, and their roles in maintaining health and preventing diseases. Understanding the chemical composition of these nutrients, their interactions within the body, and their impact on overall health requires a strong foundation in biology, chemistry, and biochemistry – all of which are fundamental STEM disciplines.
Technology plays a crucial role in the study and practice of nutrition. From food production and processing to dietary assessment and nutritional analysis, technology has revolutionized the way we approach nutrition. For instance, advancements in food science and technology have led to the development of fortified foods, functional foods, and dietary supplements, all of which have the potential to address nutritional deficiencies and improve public health. Additionally, the use of digital tools and mobile applications for tracking dietary intake and monitoring nutritional status has become increasingly prevalent, highlighting the intersection of nutrition and technology.
In the realm of engineering, nutrition also has its place. Food engineering, for example, involves the application of engineering principles to the design and development of processes and equipment for food production, preservation, and packaging. Engineers play a critical role in ensuring the safety, quality, and sustainability of the food supply, thereby contributing to the broader field of nutrition.
Moreover, the study of nutrition involves a significant amount of research and data analysis. Scientists and researchers in the field of nutrition use advanced statistical methods to analyze large datasets, conduct clinical trials, and draw evidence-based conclusions about the effects of different diets on human health. This reliance on data and quantitative analysis aligns with the principles of mathematics and statistics, which are core components of STEM education.
As we continue to unravel the complexities of human nutrition and its impact on health, the interdisciplinary nature of STEM will be essential in driving progress and innovation in this critical field. Whether it's addressing global malnutrition, combating chronic diseases, or optimizing athletic performance, the scientific, technological, engineering, and mathematical aspects of nutrition will continue to shape our understanding of food and its profound effects on the human body. This is where qualified nutrition & dietetics professionals should be sort out to address clients’ personal needs, as the impact of correct guidance can be positively profound.