To begin our unit on nutrients, I began with a discussion of malnourishment.
Students began with a journal. The were asked to describe a malnourished person. What do they look like? Where to they live? What is their family like?
Most students responded that a malnourished person was very thin, lived in a third-world country, and had little or no education.
I did a hunger demonstration with the students. I found this on a great resource site, Youth Resources: Christian Reformed Church. There are several lesson plans and activities. It is a Christian site but the activities are easily adapted for public school use.
I chose the Food Distribution exercise with popcorn. The students responded well but were not as “into it” as I had hoped. In the future I will use a food that students will argue over like Reese Pieces, M&M’s, or Starburst. Most of the students who were offered popcorn after the “rich” students shared were not interested, which defeated the purpose.
Later we discussed how people can have too much food, which can lead to malnourishment. In fact, many people in the United States are considered malnourished. This video (8 minutes) does a great job at giving a snapshot of global food politics without getting too political. It states that 10% of illness is caused by obesity and 10% is caused by hunger. That was important for students to understand.
Teaching nutrition can be difficult because it is so controversial. I stress to students that the only advice I can give them is: Eat more vegetables and less sugar, and fiber is good for you. Today was a great hands-on interactive lesson to illustrate the personal decisions and circumstances related to food.