Hanover Public Schools’ Wellness Policy recognizes that nutrition education is essential to promote student wellness and the development of lifelong healthy habits. In support of this policy, Samantha Therrien, Graduate student of the Framingham State University Coordinated Program in Dietetics, taught ninth and tenth graders in a Wellness class at Hanover High School on Monday, December 4, 2017.
The lesson, Fast Food Nutrition Breakdown, began with a pre-assessment activity called cross the line to get students up and moving. During this activity, students lined up on one side of the room and were asked to cross an imaginary line in the center of the room if they agreed with the statements read aloud. This activity got students moving and thinking about nutrition as they walked back and forth in agreement with the nutrition statements being read.
Following the activity was a lecture on the nutritional content of popular fast food items including discussions about saturated fats, added sugars, and sodium. This lecture delved into some of the science of why these nutrients/ingredients are problematic when consumed in excess. During the lecture students calculated the number of teaspoons of added sugar in popular beverage choices among teens. Three volunteers were invited to the front of the room to measure out the calculated amounts of added sugars into clear cups, which were then passed around for all students to see.
Finally, students were allowed to use their phones to research the nutritional content of their favorite/typical fast food meal order, as well as healthier substitute items. After completing this activity a discussion revealed its impact. Many students were shocked to see that their fast food meals exceeded the recommended daily limits for saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium. In the final minutes of the class, students shared their ideas for healthier substitute food items when eating fast food, which included swapping water for sugary beverages and packing fruit or ordering a side salad instead of French fries.
Submitted by: Samantha Therrien, FSU Graduate Food and Nutrition Student, Coordinated Program in Dietetics.