Importance of teaching nutrition in schools

Nutrition should be taught as a part of the health curriculum because, it is important for children to learn healthy lifestyle behaviors. Nutrition is the area of health that focuses on planning a healthful diet and includes choosing a variety of foods from the Food Guide Pyramid, adhering to dietary guidelines, reading food labels, making food selections to reduce the risk of disease, making healthful selections when dining out, considering food safety, maintaining desirable weight, and avoiding harmful eating patterns, and recognizing eating disorders (Meeks,Hieght,Page 1996 p219).

I believe that all of these different categories should be taught in the schools health education program. Nutrition choices that children make today can dramatically affect their health and well being tomorrow. However, many of these young people are facing an unhealthy situation. For example, eating disorders are on the rise, the rate of obesity has doubled, many childrens diets lack the recommended amounts of vital nutrients, and only 1% of children meet all of the nutrition recommendations of the Food Guide Pyramid. Teaching Adolescent Nutrition p1)

This information should support the dire need for proper nutrition education in the school program today. I think that it is important to teach this topic as early as kindergarten but, I also think that it is important to continue nutrition education throughout middle school and also throughout high school. The material that I chose to teach is geared toward the middle school aged student. I believe that it is most important to teach nutrition at this age because it is the age children/preteens begin to make their own lifestyle decisions.

Nutrition education can be integrated in other classes as well as health classes so the students do not think that nutrition education only has to do with health classes and not a mathematics class or a computer class. Appropriate nutrition education to recipients of child and adolescent food and nutrition programs is recognized as a key factor in health promotion/chronic disease prevention. As part of any comprehensive health program, nutrition should be integrated across the curriculum, in all subject areas (McConnel,Shaw 1996 p3). Ideas for other classes integrating nutrition education into their curriculum would be:

The teacher can teach the class how to count calories, fat intake, carbohydrates, proteins. This way children can learn the importance of regulating their calorie and fat intake and utilizing the information to integrate it into their own lives. Teach the students that it is also important to count the amount of carbohydrates that they consume along with the amount of sugars that they consume also. Students can then understand that too much of something can be bad for their health, The teacher can hand out an article on diseases linked to poor exercise and nutrition.

Then the class can participate in an open discussion. This way the students can feel open to discuss the topic in class with the teacher and their peers. They will be able to express their knowledge on the topic and learn new things as well. They can also write a poem on the nutrition and have a contest where the students will vote on the best most informative poem, and the winner will receive bonus points on the nest test/paper. The class can learn about how food is broken down in the body and how nutritious foods can help maintain a healthy functioning body.

The students can draw a diagram and map out the pathway that foods takes to go through the body. They could learn what foods that can be eaten to prevent certain diseases, like broccoli can be a good food to eat to help prevent cancer. The students can participate in a food pyramid relay. This way the students can learn the food pyramid while they are having fun and also they will be exercising. They will be able to categorize the food groups in an easily understandable way instead of being lectured to in class for a change.

The teacher can have the students paint or draw a picture of one food from each of the food groups. The students can draw or paint their favorite foods. They will also get to see others peoples favorite foods so they can see other different foods that they can enjoy. The class can learn what different foods are eaten around the world. It is good for the students to learn different nationalities and origins of the world and what they eat. They will also can learn that some people are malnourished and do not get to eat three meals a day and that they might be lucky to have one meal a day.

The students can also learn about how people used to eat through out history. Many years ago people did not know what we know now. The students can learn the ways that we have changed our eating habits since many years ago. The students can go online to health and nutrition web sites. The students can find out information and present it to the class. They can look up information on eating disorders and learn the negative effects that eating disorders have on the body. This way the students can be familiarized with how to use technology to find out information on the inter-net.

Students can then learn about nutrition in their own homes, if they have a computer, the school computers. This way they will know where to find the information if they ever need or want to. The students can learn how to say nutritional foods in other languages. They can also learn how to ask for the food and be able to say what food group it goes into. The students could also learn the different foods that the different cultures eat. A comprehensive school program is important to the students and the community.

Helping students to learn healthy decision making skills is the responsibility of the comprehensive school program. The ultimate goal of comprehensive school-based nutrition programs and services is to have students eating in a health-promoting manner (Olson 1994 p. 1). The community should be involved in trying to make the students more aware of things that are important in their lives. A lot of times posters are hung up or lectures are given to the students and they are not very useful. Activities that get students involved are much better than any other technique.

Comprehensive school health includes seven different areas of focus. The areas that can affect nutrition education are physical education classes, school health services (nurse), nutrition (cafeteria), psychological services (counselor, social worker, psychologist), environment, parents/community, and teacher and coaches. Parents, educators, school administrators, foodservice professionals, and community leaders must work in partnership to ensure that our youth learn the importance of good nutrition and good health (Nations Restaurant News 1998 p28).

The department can set up a program to have intramural sports in the afternoon after classes so the students who do not participate in an after school activity can be active after school. Also the student can make friends and fell good about themselves in stead of going home after school and eating unhealthy foods. Hopefully after they get some physical activity after school they will feel good about themselves and will eat healthy foods instead of unhealthy. The school nurse can hang up nutrition information posters up on the outside of her office.

This poster can have different healthy and enjoyable foods that students can see what is in them and have unhealthy foods that students might tend to eat and how many calories and fat is in them. The nurse can also have a question box in the nurses office that students have about different health information that the nurse can hang up on a bulletin board outside of her office. The psychological services are the schools guidance counselors, psychologists, and social workers. They can have signs up on the schools bulletin board that inform the students that is they need help they are available and where they can be found.

If students have a problem they should know that they can go and talk to someone about it and it would be completely confidential. They also should have support groups for students with eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and over eating/obesity who would rather have group support and have various people to talk to with the same problems. The schools health teachers can hold a parent/community forum that would inform the parents and the community that the students are learning nutrition in school and that they should try to encourage their son/daughter to eat healthy.

The parents can also learn the positives and negatives of proper nutrition. They can do this buy cooking healthy dinners, sending them to school with nutritious lunches, if they bring lunch from home, and they should serve healthy snacks to their kids. Parents are potent role models for children and they provide opportunities for children to practice healthful eating behaviors and reinforce these behaviors at home (Olson 2000 p. 3). Maybe the meeting will change some of the parents eating behavior and it will rub off on their kids.

Teachers and coaches play a big role in the childrens lives. They are the ones that are with the children everyday and for the most part can see if a child is eating correctly by their attitude and by their appearance. The coaches can encourage their athletes to eat properly so that they can perform to their peek performance in practice and in a game. Students will look up to their coaches because they are role models and the student is there because they like to play that sport and pay attention to what the coach teaches them.

The health program can sponsor a nutrition awareness week at the school. One day they can have a food festival in the cafeteria and the students in the health classes and whoever wants can participate in the festival. Each student will make a dish that is nutritious. Their dish will be judged and the winners get their recipes printed in the school newspaper and they will win a free meal in the cafeteria. This will get the students to participate as a class and the students will see other types of food that they can eat.

The school cafeteria can hold after school breakfast clubs and /or after school snack get together that can get the students to school on time but also have had breakfast before school so that they are energized for the day and are ready to learn. If students go for an after school snack the chances are they will be getting a healthier snack in the cafeteria other than what they might get at home from their parents of if their parents are not there when the kids get home they might be hungry and overindulge on junk food before they get dinner and then will not want to eat their dinner.

Nutrition is important to teach students at any level. What they learn properly in their younger years they are more likely to carry it on with them for the rest of their lives. Teach your children to appreciate the beauty of food and they will naturally develop lifelong healthy eating habits(Teaching kids about nutrition p1) Students will then want learn ways to improve their health and prevent diseases for life.


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